By Takashi Mizuno, a member of the ‘Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition based in San Francisco.
“I got to join a vigil for Kim Bok Dong Halmoni at St Mary Square in San Francisco where the Comfort Women Memorial was located. Before the vigil began, I put the white and yellow flowers which I brought from our daughter’s house in the arms of Kim Hak Son Halmoni.
I also put them on the base of the three girls. Then I put the photos of Ryukon No Hi (留魂之碑) on Ishigaki Island, the Arirang Memorial on Miyako Island, the Han Memorial in Okinawa Island and Mr. Shinsaburo Isa which I took during my recent trip in the Ryukyu Islands in the arms of Kim Hak Son Halmoni.
I sent the photos with my report of the vigil ( in Japanese ) to my family and friends including Mrs. Ikuko Isa who was Mr. Shinsaburo Isa’s daughter in law. I met her and Mr. Shinsaburo Isa on January 13th in Takae, Okinawa Island. I heard from her that he played with some comfort women when he was small without knowing that they were comfort women. He started to have a strong sense of guilt when he learned later that they were comfort women. He has kept his strong sense of guilt since then. She told me that he apologized to some Koreans when they visited Takae village three years ago.
Anyway, she wrote to me that she was greatly joyful when she saw her father in law’s picture in the arms of Kim Hak Son Halmoni. She felt that her father in law’s sense of guilt was lessened. He was too weak to talk when I met him. I am amazed that there are some people like Mr. Shinsaburo Isa who has kept his sense of guilt for almost 75 years and that apology can lessen his burden, too.”
Takashi Mizuno is a member of the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition: remembercomfortwomen.org/
More about Kim Bok-dong:
(NBC News) A human rights activist and “comfort woman” survivor who was forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II died Monday at the age of 92. Kim Bok-dong was one of the first comfort women to speak out about her experiences in 1993 when she traveled across the globe to testify at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights. She was a constant presence during demonstrations that have taken place at the Japanese embassy in Seoul every Wednesday for nearly three decades demanding apologies and compensation from the Japanese government.
Kim’s travels also took her to Glendale, a suburb in Los Angeles, where she advocated for the construction of a peace monument dedicated to comfort women. Kim was present in 2013 for the monument’s unveiling.