Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented on the fact that the government called the comfort women statue erected in front of the Japanese consulate general in Busan late last year the “young girl’s statue” at his news conference on Jan. 11. He said: “The government is taking issue with the comfort woman statue itself. In that sense, this is a ‘statue of a young girl representing a comfort woman’ or a ‘young girl’s statue’.” He thus indicated that the problem is not what the statue is called but the fact that a comfort women statue exists.
The South Koreans purposely embody the comfort women in the statue of a young girl to emphasize the cruelty of the Japanese Imperial Army. There is an opinion that it is inappropriate for the Japanese government to call this a “young girl’s statue.”
It is widely claimed in the ROK that many girls in their early teens were abducted by the Japanese army to work as comfort women. However, the Japanese government’s investigation and other studies found no evidence of “young girls” serving as comfort women.
In fact, a 1944 report drafted by the U.S. forces based on interviews with Korean comfort women captured in Burma (present day Myanmar) said that the average age of the 20 women interviewed was 23, and that the youngest one was 19. Yet, the ROK ignores such facts and has continued to spread information in the international community that the comfort women were “sex slaves” and that they numbered 200,000.
A Foreign Ministry source explained that “it is a fact that the comfort woman statue is in the form of a young girl, and the government has indeed used this term in the sense that this is a ‘so-called’ statue of a young girl.”