After 60 years as San Francisco's sister city, Osaka, Japan wants out of the relationship. In a 10-page letter mayor, Hirofumi Yoshimura told California mayor London Breed that he took exception to a statue, installed in San Francisco's Chinatown district, memorializing women used in WWII as sex slaves for his country's front-line troops. He called the monument unfair because his country wasn't the only one who did that to women.

Female Complaint

The statue, a 10-foot-tall bronze-work called “Women's Column of Strength” by British-American artist Steven Whyte, portrays three young women representing those in China, Korea, and the Philippines forced to service military brothels between 1932 and the end of the war in 1945.

A fourth figure in the monument shows an older woman stands apart looking on. A reported 200,000 women worked in the Imperial army brothels.

Inscribing infamy

Osaka's mayor also objected to the inscription on the statue because of its focus on Japan: “This monument bears witness to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women and girls, euphemistically called 'Comfort 'omen,' who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces in thirteen Asian-Pacific countries from 1931-1945. Most of these women died during their wartime captivity.” Cities in South Korea also have erected “Comfort Women” statues, but the San Francisco installation is a first in the U.S. Lillian Sing, co-chairman of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition that commissioned the statue, faulted the Osaka mayor for trying to rewrite history: “Breaking the relationship over a memorial is outrageous and absurd.

It shows how afraid the Osaka mayor and Japanese prime minister are afraid of the truth and are trying to deny history.”

Never again

More than a footnote to history, abusing women remains a current event. Which makes this years' Nobel Peace Prize winners especially relevant - Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, who heads a hospital in the Congo that treats sexual violence victims and Nadia Murad, raped by Islamic State fighters in Iraq who wrote a Book about it called “The Last Girl.” Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research told Reuters, “Rape in war has been a crime for centuries.

But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it. Their achievements are really extraordinary in bringing international attention to the crime.”

Speaking up

When asked if the #MeToo movement played a part in the Nobel Committee decision, chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said, “#MeToo and war crimes are not quite the same.

But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women and that it is is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up.” Words for all seasons, though particularly after Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were teens. Well done, Dr. Ford.