PALISADES PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Palisades Park monument dedicated to “comfort women” has become the focus of international controversy.
The stone with a small and modest copper plaque honors 200,000 Korean women who were apparently abducted by occupying Japanese soldiers during World War II and used as sex slaves.
“They were abducted and killed. It was a different type of holocaust,” Deputy Mayor Jason Kim said.
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The plaque has been outside the Palisades Park Library since 2010 but has been drawing a lot of attention recently.
Earlier this year, members of Japanese parliament have demanded the monument be removed, while officials from South Korea supported the town for refusing to make changes.
Mina Yoshigaki, president of the Japanese-American Society of New Jersey, said many in her community are offended by the plaque.
“Why here? To show the Japanese people, ‘You did this?’” Yoshigaki said. “They should put it in Korea, not in Palisades Park.”
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Kim insists the plaque monument is meant to educate.
“We, as human beings, if we do not learn from past history, there is no better future for us,” Kim said. “You cannot hide from history, you can only learn from it.”
Petitions for and against the monument have appeared on the White House’s “We The People” website.
Palisades Park has a population of about 20,000, more than half of whom are of Korean descent.
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