Highlights and Photos from the Global Alliance Biennial Conference in Shanghai-October 21-23, 2016

The “Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (GA) had its most recent biennial conference on October 21-23, 2016 in Shanghai.  It was hosted by Professor Su Zhiliang (蘇智良), the Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University.  It was well attended by about 150 participants from more than half a dozen countries.  The theme of the conference was “Memory of War and Peace of Mankind.” The two-day conference was preceded by a half-day of museum visit and a large group dinner, and followed by several days of visits to several historically meaningful localities around the Jiangsu Province.  The main highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the first Comfort Women Memorial in China on October 22, 2016 on the campus of Shanghai Normal University.

This essay briefly summarizes some of the highlights of the conference and shows some of the photos taken at the conference.

A major issue of “Memory of War and Peace of Mankind” is a proper treatment of the issue of “Comfort Women” (CW) or “Sexual Slavery” that was so widespread during WWII in Asia.  That was probably the most important focus of the conference.  Present at the conference were several key people in this world-wide campaign to correct the injustices done more than 70 years ago:

  • Former CW Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea and Chen Liancun (陈连村) of China.  A third former comfort woman Estelita B. Dy of the Philippines was scheduled to attend, but at the last moment ill health kept her from attending.
  • Retired California (CA) judges Lillian Sing and Julie Tang, Co-Chairs of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC) in San Francisco
  • Phyllis Kim, Executive Director of the Korean American Forum of California (KAFC) and leader of the Glendale (CA) CW Memorial
  • Professor Su Zhiliang (苏智良), Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University and one of the world’s foremost authorities on the CW issue
  • Shi Young (史雷永), who originated the idea of adding a Chinese CW, in addition to the Korean CW, for the CW Memorial in Seoul, and Pan Yiqun (潘毅群) who was the sculptor of the Chinese CW.  They were also the people behind the first Chinese CW Memorial in China that was unveiled at this conference
  • The Japanese wife-husband team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe, the performers of the skit “The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)”
  • Kang Jian (康健) , who for more than 20 years has been the lead Chinese attorney for Chinese CW and other WWII atrocity victims
  • Allen Ho, President of GA and organizer of this Conference
  • Plus many other leaders in this movement from around the world

We heard from first-hand experience how the Japanese government funded and fought hard to sabotage the erection of CW memorials in San Francisco and Glendale, such as how the Japanese government tried to fight this battle through the American justice system, including in the Glendate case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Count, but failed at each step.  We learned from Professor Su that the often quoted number of 200,000 CW did not include a lot of the CW in China.  If the Chinese CW were properly included, the number of CW worldwide was about 400,000.

Here are some photos.  Click on a photo to get a larger photo.

Former Comfort Woman (CW) Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea

Former CW Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea and Chen Liancun (陈連村) of China

Former CW Chen Liancun (陈连村) of China

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea and Chen Liancun of China, with Professor Chen Lifei of Shanghai Normal University in the back

Former CW Chen Liancun of China looking at photo of herself in the Chinese ‘Comfort Women’ History Museum

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea

Map of CW stations in Asia during WWII

Former CW Chen Liancun of China pointing at photo of herself in the Chinese ‘Comfort Women’ History Museum

Former CW Chen Liancun of China with Julie Tang and Lillian Sing

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea with Julie Tang and Phyllis Kim

Former CW Chen Liancun of China with Don Tow. On left is Chinese activist lawyer Kang Jian (康健)

The first CW Memorial in China was unveilled on October 22, 2016 on the campus of Shanghai Normal University.  Participating in the unveiling ceremony were former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea and Chen Liancun of China, Memorial originator Shi Young (史雷永) and Chinese sculptor Pan Yiqun (潘毅群).  Here are some photos of the CW Memorial.

New CW Memorial Before Unveiling

First CW Memorial in China Ready To Be Unveiled

First CW Memorial In China

New CW Memorial in Shanghai

Memorial Chinese Sculptor Pan Yiqun (潘毅群) and Originator Shi Young (史雷永) with Model of Memorial

Two Young CW and an Empty Chair

Young Korean CW

Young Chinese CW

Third Candidate: Young Dutch CW

There were several other meaningful programs spread over the two days, as seen from the program (click on photo to get a larger-size).

Conference Program

We will give only two examples.  One are the reports from one of China’s foremost germ warfare researchers Wang Xuan (王选) and her colleagues, including Japanese colleagues and several young Chinese members of her team.  Among their projects are discovering a Japanese diary by a high-level officer who worked on germ warfare for the Japanese leadership, setting up the first approved Non Profit Organization (NPO) in China as an NPO consisting of atrocity victims, and plans to speak in front of Japanese legislature and American Congress, and finding additional specific data such as how many people suffered what, where, and when.  Another is an one-hour skit “The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)” performed by the Japanese wife-husband team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe.  The skit is based on the recollections of the painful experiences of CWs that the performers have interviewed with. It was gratifying to see that there were several justice-loving Japanese who made presentations at the conference, refuting the claim that seeking justice for WWII atrocities was Japan bashing.

There was also a session on slave laborers chaired by Lawyer Kang Jian and Professor Guan Jianqiang (管建强).  But due to a delayed schedule that caused this session to be simultaneous with the GA Planning Meeting, I missed that session.

A few more photos:

Professor Su Zhiliang, who was the host for the conference and the Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University

Wang Xuan (王选, on the far right) and her Young Team of Researchers on Germ Warfare

“The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)” Skit Performed by the Japanese Wife-Husband Team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe

GA President Allen Ho and Prof. Su Zhiliang Presenting Certificate to Kazuku Yokoi and Yoshiji Watanahe

Former Chinese CW Chen Liancun and her helper, with Don Tow, Kazuku Yokoi, and Cathy Tsang in back row. Cathy has been a strong supporter of many projects in the U.S. and China for many years.

China’s Foremost Lawyer Representing Chinese WWII Atrocity Victims – Kang Jian (康健)

The GA Conference brought together many people and organizations from around the world who have been working on the campaign to make known to the world the many massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese military committed all over Asia, with the objective to provide justice and closure to this part of history and to keep this type of history from repeating itself anywhere else on earth.

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