LA Korean American orgs to greet Japanese PM Abe with silent protest

April 27, 2015
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be met with a silent protest by Southern California’s Korean American organizations upon his visit to Los Angeles May 1.

The Korean American Forum of California said Saturday that a group of human rights and women’s organizations will wear masks in front of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, where Abe is scheduled to dine before meeting Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Calls for an apology from the prime minister for Japan’s wartime history — most prominently involving its occupation of China and Korea as well as its use of the so-called “comfort women,” or sexual slaves taken by the Japanese army during World War II — have increased recently, with an editorial appearing in the New York Times earlier this month.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also called for Abe’s apology earlier this month.

“We have been clear about what we’d like to hear about comfort women,” Pelosi said. “I hope that a statement will be made to free (Japanese) people from this burden of the issue of comfort women.”

While apology statements about its wartime history have been made by Japan in the past, Abe has refused to issue apology.

Korean Americans have recently raised efforts to increase awareness of and commemorate the comfort women from the war by installing memorial statues across the country, from Glendale, Calif., to Union City, N.J., and Southfield, Michigan. Others are planned in Los Angeles, Fullerton, Calif., and Ellicott City, Maryland.