Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:29 AM
Published on: Thursday, May 09, 2013
By Holden Wilen
ROCKVILLE – Councilwoman Valerie Ervin had hoped to highlight the problems of human trafficking, but a recent proclamation also had the unintended result of apparently angering Japanese citizens.
Ervin presented a proclamation commemorating World War II "Comfort Women" and efforts to combat human trafficking with the hope of highlighting the issue, but apparently some Japanese citizens have chosen to take it as an insult to their country and are now sounding off by sending a barrage of emails to county officials and members of the media.
Most of the emails are very similar, and while the writers are reportedly from Japan, there has been no independent confirmation the emails are any more than a “spam attack” said one county staffer.
The emails, which are addressed to County Executive Ike Leggett and the members of the County Council, are allegedly coming from people in Japan who say Ervin’s proclamation, which was made on April 23, was unfair and makes false allegations. When presenting the proclamation Ervin said comfort women were the 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.
“Despite your intention for prevention of the human trafficking, we regret to express our deep disappointment that you acted on the story which was not based on the data through any official research by your government but written based on fabrication,” writes Yoshifumi Arai in one of the letters.
The letter asks the council to provide a reliable, primary source. The writer of another letter, Naoko Kojima of Takasaki, Japan, says he reserves the right to demand an apology from Montgomery County for “bringing disgrace on Japan.” All of the letters are written very similarly with little or no changes among them.
Ervin said the central point of her proclamation was to shed light on the need for continual vigilance against human trafficking, and she does not want disputes of historical facts to be a distraction.
“The County Council proclamation was intended to be a statement that we do not condone or tolerate crimes against humanity under any circumstances,” Ervin said.
Montgomery County Delegate Susan Lee (District 16) sponsored two bills during the General Assembly’s legislative session dealing with human trafficking in the state and was honored during the presentation of the proclamation. Lee said she commends Ervin for the proclamation and highlighting the issue of human trafficking.
Lee said she is convinced the comfort women issue existed because she has heard many witnesses give their accounts of what happened. The emails, she said, are probably coming from people who just do not want to acknowledge the event happened.
“With respect to human trafficking we are not singling out one single country on the issue,” Lee said. “We are just highlighting it is a human rights violation. I do not think we are trying to single out anyone. It does matter because it brought up an issue that they probably didn’t want to be brought up. It is like what happened in Germany after World War II. There were some people who denied there was a Holocaust when we know quite well there was. My understanding is that then Germany apologized and everybody moved on.”
The emails will probably backfire on the senders, Lee said, because they provide another opportunity to shine light on the human trafficking issue.
Patrick Lacefield, spokesman for Montgomery County, said the resolution passed by the council is correct and is not an allegation. Any student of World War II history in the Pacific theatre knows many instances of human trafficking occurred, he said, and there will be no apology made by the county. He also said the proclamation was not meant to single out Japan.
“There are many opportunities when the county council and the county government issue proclamations on things,” Lacefield said. “They may be to note anniversaries of things or remind people of tragedies that have happened in the past. I think this is just another case of that.”
Posted By: Mitsuo Tamaoki On: 9/13/2013
Title: To understand the issue more corectly
I recommend you the related personnel to see the following video about what happened in the history of Chosen-Korea and understand the background of the issue. The video is made rather academically by attaching the primal sources of various evidences.
Posted By: advocator of real human rights On: 6/11/2013
Title: judgment by degfault giving Japan guilty
It seems to me that all interviewees, Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, Montgomery County Delegate Susan LeePatrick and Lacefield, spokesman for Montgomery County reply in haste facing many unexpected protest from Japan. Because their explanations are illogical and irresponsible like other cities which adopted Resolutions. The issue is deeply concerned with Japan. Nevertheless they listened only to some organizations as accusers. That is to say, Montgomery did judgment by default and declared Japan guilty without having given Japan any occasion to state. Recently there have been two rejects of demand to set up comfort women memorials. One is by Singaporean government and the other is by Southfield public library in Detroit. They verified materials of the both sides (Japan and Korea). The consequence is that they could not judge which side is right. The only thing that they could understand is that there have been enormous controversy on the issue which is quite different from the Holocaust or The atomic bomb in Japan that no one can deny.