Many memorials honor the courage, bravery, and sacrifice of soldiers during wartime. Few, if any, honor women. This memorial is in honor of the 300,000+ women and young girls from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other countries of Japanese occupation, who suffered human trafficking and sexual slavery as ‘Comfort Women’ by the Japanese Imperial Military during World War II. Their violent exploitation and abuse was a crime of war, and their courage to speak out has changed the Human Rights and Justice landscape around the world forever.
In San Francisco, the “Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition,” led by the indomitable, retired Judges, Julie Tang and Lillian Sing (seen above with Grandmother Lee) has written a resolution, now approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, to build a Memorial to the ‘Comfort Women’ in this capital city of freedom. Mobile Studio, as project managers, will be running an international design competition and call for artists proposals. The competition, which will be launched in the upcoming weeks, seeks visions for the selected site in St. Mary’s Square Park that address the desire to honor and remember those who have suffered, to commemorate their courage and bravery, to inspire a commitment to truth telling, and to fighting for the safety and equality of women and children around the world.
Memory, Dialogue, Peace and Reconciliation, Transformation, Resistance and Justice. The memorial will offer a place for community members and visitors to remember, grieve, learn, find peace, and commit themselves to human rights. The work of bringing justice to the Japanese Government regarding this violation of human rights is yet unfinished. Denialism is not acceptable. Token gestures are not enough. All nations that profit from denialism are implicit. This addition of public art into the City of San Francisco at the crossroads of Chinatown and the Financial District will serve as a touchstone of memory, a beacon of hope, and a call to action for years to come.