Japan pledges to remove ‘comfort woman’ statue in Berlin

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Sept. 29 (UPI) — The Japanese government vowed to get rid of a newly erected “comfort woman” statue in Berlin, a day after activists in Germany held an inauguration ceremony for the symbol of Japanese wartime exploitation of young women from the Korean Peninsula.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press briefing on Tuesday that Tokyo “extremely regrets” the decision of Germany-based civic group Korea Verband to place the statue in the German capital in a public space, Kyodo News and KBS reported.

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“We are aware of the statue’s unveiling in Berlin, Germany,” Kato said, according to the Nikkei. “This is a very regrettable action. The [Japanese] government will approach various parties involved in order to remove the statue.

“We have explained the government’s position on the comfort women issue, and responses to the issue, in various forms before the international community. We will continue to make such efforts to receive a fair evaluation from the international community,” Kato said.

Other comfort woman statues have been installed in Germany but the Berlin statue is the first to be placed in a public area, less than two miles from the Japanese Embassy. Other statues were erected at the Nepal Himalaya Pavilion in Wiesent and a Korean church in Frankfurt, according to South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun on Tuesday.

Han Jung-hwa, head of Korea Verband in Germany, told KBS she anticipates the statue to raise public awareness of past crimes against humanity.

“I hope this helps parents speak to their children, and teachers with their students, about this issue, so that such incidents do not happen again,” Han said.

German activists who spoke to KBS said they are “happy” about the new statue, which was installed on Friday. The statue is a “symbol of the future and represents the will to live peacefully in this world,” one Berlin resident said.