Comfort Women Lawsuit Dismissed


A lawsuit filed alleging, among other things, that Glendale’s “comfort women” monument is an unconstitutional interference with the federal government’s foreign affairs was dismissed earlier this week.

On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield granted a motion by the city to dismiss the second lawsuit filed by Michiko Shota Gingery, a resident of Glendale, and the Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT-US), represented by Koichi Mera. Their lawsuit sought the removal of the monument from the city’s Central Park.

Comfort women, or ianfu in Japanese, is a euphemism employed for the thousands of women coerced into prostitution by the former Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II.

Entrenched nationalist posturing in Japan, China, and the Koreas has turned the issue into a bitterly debated one between those countries. Estimates as to the number of comfort women range from as low as 20,000 from some Japanese sources to close to 500,000 from Chinese sources.

The enmity between Japan and the Koreas is especially deep, with the comfort women issue being one of a number of issues that have put relations between the countries into a deep freeze. Other issues being fought over are a territorial dispute over the Liancourt Rocks and the naming of the Sea of Japan.

A prior lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs was dismissed last year.

In a press release issued by the city, City Atty. Michael J. Garcia said that he and the city were “extremely pleased with the result and the thorough and thoughtful ruling by Judge Linfield.”

Garcia also thanked the city’s legal team, which was represented by litigators from international law firm Sidley Austin LLP.

“[Glendale] is also very appreciative of Sidley Austin’s tireless effort and exceptional representation in this matter,” he said.

The law firm represented the city pro bono.

Inquiries seeking comment from GAHT-US were not returned by press time. But a statement issued in Japanese on GAHT-US’ website criticized the ruling saying that the ruling was determined by “political pressure” and that it “allows local governments to intervene in foreign affairs without fear.”

The GAHT-US statement also called on “bold action by the Japanese government” suggesting that it rescind the “Kono Statement” of 1993, which formally acknowledged and apologized for the actions of the IJA during World War II.

The site’s mission statement reads: “To reclaim the correct stature of Japan, to protect the honor of the State of Japan for the future of our children, and to bring historical awareness in line with the facts.”

Korean-American groups have vociferously lobbied for memorials to the comfort women on U.S. soil. A memorial was inaugurated last summer in Michigan, but a similar monument in Buena Park was stopped from being erected in 2013 after a loss of support from its city council.