U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following statement via a staff member at the Glendale Peace Memorial today in response to the Japanese's government's continuing efforts to remove the statue tribute to "comfort women":
"It is an honor to address this important issue to which we have all been committed for so long. And I want to thank the city of Glendale for its efforts to protect this important monument.
As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - and as an American citizen - no issue is more important to me than the fight for human rights. As Americans, it is our duty to always defend free speech and seek justice on behalf of the victims of human rights abuses, both past and present.
All of us here know the enormous suffering endured by so many women at the hand of the Imperial Japanese Army during the occupation of Asia and the Pacific. The systematic, state-sponsored enslavement of hundreds of thousands of women from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other countries was an affront to human dignity and against the very essence of humanity.
For the handful of survivors – “grandmothers” – the persistent efforts by senior Japanese officials to deny history are a personal injustice; but it’s also an insult to an entire generation which suffered under wartime occupation. And that is why it’s so important that we stand firm against revisionist history and other efforts to minimize this tragedy.
I have met with many surviving victims over the years, I know how deeply these wounds are still felt and how critical it is they receive an apology and the recognition of history as it occurred.
These abuses took place over 70 years ago. They are a matter of historical record, but they are also an issue for the present day.
Because demanding accountability for past abuses helps us prevent future ones.
I’ve long fought misguided efforts to minimize the suffering endured by hundreds of thousands of women at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army.
Nearly ten years ago, I co-authored House Resolution 121 calling on the Japanese government to acknowledge, apologize, and accept responsibility for the coercion of young women into sexual slavery during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific.
As a senior member of the Asia Subcommittee at that time, I was proud to help organize a hearing at which we heard testimony from several surviving Comfort Women and in seeing to it that this important legislation was brought to the floor and passed.
That was a great victory and we have made even more progress bringing this issue to light over the past ten years.
And yet sadly some in the Japanese government continue to deny the existence of comfort women or the plight they suffered at the hands of the Imperial Army. It is equally egregious that the Japanese government continues to support efforts to force Glendale to remove this memorial to hundreds of thousands of victims of military sexual slavery.
This is unacceptable and I will continue to work with you to fight for justice and recognition for the victims of these abuses.
I do this as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I do this as your representative in Congress. And I do this as an American.
We owe it to our “grandmothers” and we owe it to their grandchildren."
Chairman Royce at a past visit to the Glendale Peace Memorial.