The statues commemorate Asian women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in WWII

San Francisco’s ‘Comfort Women’ memorial has been vandalised ahead of its first anniversary.

As reported by CGTN, the ‘Comfort Women’ memorial in San Francisco has been vandalised. The statues, which were installed in June 2017, commemorate Chinese and Asian women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during WWII.

The ‘Comfort Women’ statues show three Asain girls standing on a pedestal, holding hands. An adjacent statue, known as the ‘Column of Strength’ shows a grandmother looking up at the girls.

Over the past few weeks, the statues have been vandalised. Paint was splattered on the statues and the Column of Strength grandmother’s eyes were painted in white. A panel that shows the description about the statues was also scratched.

Julie Tang, co-chair of Comfort Women Justice Coalition said CCTV footage from the area is being analyse. “We have sent the tape to the video camera surveillance department [of the San Francisco Police Department],” she said. “They will look to the manager of the building which hosts the memorial and look over the tape.”

“The deep scratches and the four separate incidents of vandalism look to be very intentional,” she added. “It looks to me like a hate crime, not like some young kids coming around, having fun and painting the eyes. It’s not that simple. The act itself speaks for the intent and I think it’s an intentional vandalization against the purpose and meaning of the statue, which is to promote peace and honor the courage of these women.” 

Japanese activists had protested against the memorial before its installation. Japan’s Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura threatened late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, saying he would sever relations with the city if the statue was installed.

In July Yoshimura told San Francisco’s new Mayor London Breed that he would proceed with terminating relations if the statue was not removed.

Tang believes the vandalism and the politics between the mayors are connected.

“I think [the vandalism] has something to do with Osaka mayor’s letter, because the information has been propagated,” said Tang.