Comfort Women Memorial in New Jersey
By Contested Histories Initiative •
A ‘Comfort Women’ Memorial was unveiled outside Palisades Public Library in New Jersey in 2010. The monument paid homage to the more than 200,000 South Korean women who were victims of sexual exploitation (also termed ‘sexual slavery’) by Imperial Japanese forces before and during World War II. Though the Korean-American community in New Jersey celebrated a growing remembrance of the harm that many Korean women suffered, the monument sparked controversy in Japan. During multiple diplomatic visits and through a petition to the White House, the Japanese government attempted unsuccessfully to have the memorial removed. This case study raises questions about memorialisation in a nation not directly involved in events from the past.