Brookhaven, GA, July 6, 2017 – by Anna Williams for The Post – The City of Brookhaven says they will be moving a controversial ‘Comfort Women’ memorial that recognizes some 200,000 girls and women who were, according to a City release, “forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II”. Currently, the statue known as the Young Girl’s Statue for Peace, sits in Brookhaven’s Blackburn II park on Blair Circle. The City says they intend to move the monument to the nearby larger 51-acre Blackburn Park located on Ashford Dunwoody Rd.
“We want to better accommodate those who wish to visit the statue,” said Mayor John Ernst in a Wednesday release. “Blackburn Park will offer more space, more parking and a more accessible location for what is surely to become a landmark in our city.” The City says increases in traffic and activity is behind their relocation decision.
The statue was unveiled on June 30th, before an estimated crowd of 300 people who attended the rain soaked ceremony. The statue was presented to the City by the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, a monument intended to recognize and bring educational awareness to the danger and injustice of human trafficking both worldwide and locally.
Brookhaven leaders’ decision to welcome the placement of the ‘Comfort Women’ statue in their City sparked controversy, including Takashi Shinozuka, the Japanese Consul General of Atlanta, denying Japan had forced the victims into sexual slavery and he unsuccessfully tried to block the memorial’s installation. The fear is the statue will only spawn and contribute to discrimination of the Japanese community and serve as a reminder of an issue Japanese officials contend was resolved in 2015 via an agreement between Japan and South Korea. That agreement included a monetary settlement along with an apology.
Despite the push-back, the City of Brookhaven has joined other U.S. cities that have established Comfort Women memorials include Palisades Park, New Jersey; Nassau, New York (2 memorials); Bergen City, New Jersey; Glendale, California; Southfield, Michigan; Fairfax, Virginia; Union City, New Jersey; San Francisco, CA; with efforts currently underway in Chicago.
“We applaud the City of Brookhaven’s decision to help bring greater awareness to the Comfort Women tragedy through the more prominent placement of the Young Girl’s Statue for Peace,” said Mr. Baik Kyu Kim, Chair of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force said in the release. “The City Council has been a leader in taking a very strong stand against human and sex trafficking. We are grateful for their proactive move to provide greater accessibility to the memorial.”