Asian Americans Remembering the "Comfort Women"



On October 6, 2016, a day long teach in on "Asian Americans Remembering the 'Comfort' Women'" featured activists and scholars involved in Asian American community issues.

Throughout the day,  these activists and speakers spoke to  Asian American studies classes on the importance of remembering "comfort women."  They also spoke on the need for the Japanese government to take  responsibility for the military sexual slavery of more than 200,000 women and children during WWII. 

Activists and scholars included the following:

Cecilia I. Gaerlan is the Executive Director of Bataan Legacy Historical Society. She founded the organization to address the lack of information about the role of the Filipinos during World War II in the Philippines and to seek justice for the Filipino veterans whose benefits were rescinded in 1946.  Her involvement was inspired by her father, Luis Gaerlan, Jr. a Filipino veteran (41st Infantry Regiment) of WWII and a survivor of the Bataan Death March. 

Miho Kim is a cofounder and coordinator of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. She is also Co-Representative of Japan Multicultural Relief Fund (JMRF), which she cofounded  as the first US-based grantmaking entity dedicated exclusively to Japan’s minorities affected by the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster. Ms. Lee led JMRF’s grant-making to seed Japan’s first-ever nationwide multilingual hotline for women, as well as a historic launch of a new multicultural community center in the quake-struck Minamisanriku. Previously, Ms. Lee served as Executive Director of DataCenter for Research Justice in Oakland, CA

Kathy Masaoka is the current co-chair of the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress.  Kathy was able to represent NCRR in Japan to support the rights of Korean and other minorities and currently, conducts workshops with the Education Committee on the film, “Stand Up for Justice” and with the NCRR 9/11 Committee builds relationships with the Muslim and South Asian communities through such programs as the Bridging Communities. She is currently involved with the Sustainable Little Tokyo project and continues to support other communities and issues such reparations for Comfort Women.

Judith Mirkinson is a long time women’s and human rights activist specializing in the relationship between militarism and sexual violence.  She began this work when she was a GI organizer in Okinawa, Japan in 1974.  As a co-founder of GABRIELA Network, a US-Philippine women’s solidarity organization, she began doing work with the former comfort women in 1993.  Ms. Mirkinson is a national vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild, a US legal and human rights organization founded on the principle that human rights are more important than property rights.

Grace Shimizu is director of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, coordinator of the Campaign For Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans, and executive committee member of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Her educational and redress activism for truth, justice and community empowerment includes the ongoing struggles for full disclosure and government accountability for WWII war crimes perpetrated by the Japanese government through its sex slavery system against more than 200,000 women and children from 11 countries and by the US government through its Latin American rendition, internment, and hostage exchange program against more than 6000 men, women and children of Japanese, German, Jewish, and Italian ancestry from 18 Latin American countries.

Lillian Sing is co-chair of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition.  Last year, she retired after serving as a Judge in San Francisco for over three decades.  She was the first Asian American female judge in San Francisco. With a background in social work,  she has had a life long commitment to the Asian American community and was the founding member of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian American Bar Association, and the Rape of Nanking Coalition.  She has received numerous awards for her service to the community.