On October 26, 2012, the Comfort Women Memorial in Palisades Park was defiled with a stake by an unidentified perpetrator. The memorial calls attention to the "Comfort Women", who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. This memorial in Palisades Park is the first Comfort Women memorial in the Western world. It was created to honor the Comfort Women and to educate the importance of human rights.

Many elected officials, community leaders, and residents have visited and promised to keep the memorial in its place despite repeated objections from the Japanese officials.

On October 13, 2012, Bergen County announced that the third Comfort Women memorial will be joining a set of similar memorials soon on the lawn outside the County Courthouse in Hackensack.

This is not the first incident where Comfort Women memorials and institutions were defiled.

On June 18, 2012, Japanese right-wing extremists defiled the "Comfort Women" statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Korea with a wooden stake, and proceeded to put up a video of their actions on the internet without shame.

On August 22, 2012, Japanese right-wing extremists defiled the War & Women's Human Rights Museum in Seoul, Korea and the Northeast Asian History Foundation with similar stakes. The perpetrators mounted the stakes on the exteriors of both the museum and the Foundation.

KACE and the Palisades Park Borough Government held a press conference on October 26, 4PM in regards to this matter.

 

The stake used to defile the memorial was exactly identical to the one used in the previous incidents in Korea.

After learning of this incident, several local, state, and federal politicans condemned this action.

Congressman Bill Pascrell stated: "I am appalled to learn of this morning's defiling of the Comfort Women memorial in Palisades Park. This disrespectful act contradicts everything this memorial stands for – human rights and peace.  Although the violence against the comfort women occurred many years ago, their wounds have yet to heal. I strongly condemn any hateful acts against the Korean American community and I hope the perpetrators are expeditiously brought to justice."

NYS Senator Tony Avella stated: "It is extremely disturbing to learn of the defilement of the Comfort Women Memorial in Palisades Park.  This Memorial, being the first Comfort Women memorial in the United States, was dedicated to Korean women who were captured and coerced into sexual slavery and extreme forms of violence by the Japanese military.  The Memorial symbolizes their suffering and serves as a reminder of the crime against humanity committed through the Comfort Women system. There should be a thorough investigation of this matter.  As I stated in my previous letter to the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, I call upon the Japanese government to give their sincere apology to the remaining victims, who are living with the anguish from the memories of the torture they suffered."

NYS Assemblywoman Grace Meng stated: "It is heartbreaking to learn that the Comfort Women Memorial in Palisades Park was vandalized.  We must never forget those women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. As an advocate of women’s rights, it is critically important to me that we identify the perpetrators, remind them of the sufferings that these women endured and bring them to justice."

NYC Councilman Peter Koo stated: "It is unfortunate that individuals would deface a memorial that has come to mean so much to so many.  This cowardly act of vandalism, however, has strengthened my resolve and increased my determination to have a street renaming and memorial that honors comfort women."

This incident is currently being investigated, and the initiator of the project, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE), is looking into the matter as well.

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