A county plan to erect a memorial for women forced into sexual slavery in Japanese-occupied territories around World War II is moving forward. Bergen County is expected today to sign the final proof for the Comfort Women Memorial, which is to be placed near the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack. It would sit aside memorials to the Holocaust, the Irish Potato Famine and the Armenian genocide. The memorial, according to information provided by the county, will contain the following words:
In memory of hundreds of thousands of women and girls from Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Indonesia and other Japanese-occupied territories who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan before and during World War II.
It would be the second such memorial in Bergen County for the women referred to as "comfort women" after the military comfort stations that were reportedly set up for Japanese soldiers at the time. Palisades Park dedicated a similar stone and plaque in 2010. That stone has generated international attention in the past year. Several officials and a few lawmakers from South Korea have visited Palisades Park, some laying flowers near the stone. In the spring, Mayor James Rotundo and other town officials said members of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party met with them and asked that the stone and plaque be removed, arguing that they contained historical inaccuracies. Town officials said they had researched the issue of the comfort women prior to erecting the stone and refuse to remove it. Late last month, a 4-foot-tall stake bearing a Japanese political message was found dug into the flower beds near the stone. The stake read, "Takeshima is Japanese territory," referring to an ongoing dispute between Korea and Japan over a group of islands claimed by both countries. A police investigation into the incident is ongoing, Rotundo said.
The county memorial is expected to be dedicated before the end of the year. It is being donated by the Bergen County Comfort Women Memorial Committee, he said. The final proof is to be signed at 4 p.m. today in the fifth-floor conference room, at One Bergen County Plaza.