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Women"s rights activists on Wednesday criticized the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka for unilaterally severing the sister-city relationship with San Francisco in protest at a "comfort women" memorial in the city.
Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, in a letter dated Oct 2 to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, announced his decision to withdraw the city from the 61-year-old agreement.
Yoshimura had written several letters to the late San Francisco mayor Ed Lee and current mayor Breed, threatening to terminate the relationship if the city did not remove the memorial from public land.
"He is like a coward, escaping from reality. He is like a spoiled child, who picks up the marble when he doesn"t win and leaves. He"s out because he doesn"t get his way," Lillian Sing, co-chair of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC) and a retired Superior Court judge in San Francisco, told a news conference in front of the memorial.
Her organization led efforts to install the memorial in a public park in downtown San Francisco last September, the first of its kind in a major US city.
"It"s a bilateral relationship between Osaka and San Francisco. Who"s going to suffer the most? The citizens of San Francisco, the citizens of Osaka, and the citizens of the world that will suffer from the kind of attitude that the Osaka mayor has," Sing said.
The Kansai Network from Osaka said in an email to the CWJC: "The mayor of Osaka really has no power to change much between San Francisco and Osaka apart from not spending the city"s money on exchange programs."
The "comfort women" memorial depicts a grandmother looking up at three girls standing on a pedestal and holding their hands together. They represent the hundreds of thousands of women who were kidnapped from 13 Asian countries and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military before and during World War II. Those women are euphemistically called "comfort women".
"This statue is a testament to the resilience of women, a testament to women coming out and saying "no more". It"s a testament to everyone who wants to end sexual violence now and forever," said Judith Mirkinson, president of the CWJC.
The memorial sparked strong opposition from rightist forces in Japan even before it was erected. The most pronounced opposition came from Yoshimura.
Former San Francisco mayor Ed Lee said in a letter dated Feb 3, 2017, to Yoshimura: "Their (the CWJC"s) request was not unprecedented, as San Francisco has many public and private memorials that commemorate some of history"s darkest moments as well as calling for peace and reconciliation."
Lee died in December 2017. Yoshimura then wrote to Mayor Breed in July, threatening to terminate the sistercity relationship if she didn"t respond by the end of September.
Mason Lee, a spokesman for Mayor Breed"s office, said: "It is unfortunate that Mayor Yoshimura no longer wishes to maintain ties between the governments of San Francisco and Osaka. We will remain sister cities via the people-to-people ties maintained by our San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Committee and their counterparts in Osaka."bracelet custom siliconecustom wristbands australiacheap wristbands for eventsnike rubber braceletscustom message bracelets