Giving Voice: The Comfort Women Issue as an American Issue


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When: Sep 25 2014 - 12:00pm until Sep 25 2014 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Giving Voice: The “Comfort Women” Issue as an American Issue

An Asia Pacific Seminar featuring:

Dr. Mary M. McCarthy
Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington
Associate Professor, Drake University

Dr. Daqing Yang (Discussant)
Associate Professor and Director, Asian Studies Program, George Washington University

Dr. Mary McCarthy discusses how the comfort women issue has been taken up by Asian Diasporas in the United States.

Despite the passage of almost seven decades since the end of World War II, the issue of sexual slavery and the Imperial Japanese armed forces remains not only unresolved, but of increasing concern in East Asia and the United States. For the US, this is due to the fact that not only does the lack of resolution disrupt national security goals through the serious challenges it poses for US-Japan-South Korea trilateral cooperation, but it has become a point of contention in the US domestic political sphere as well. This is clearly viewed through the 2007 passage of House Resolution 121, which called on Japan to acknowledge and apologize for the use of “comfort women” during WWII, as well as the proliferation of “comfort women” memorials throughout the US since 2010.

In this seminar, Dr. Mary M. McCarthy analyzed how and why this subject resonates with people in the US today across ethnic and generational lines. She discussed the present-day meanings attached to this issue, by a diversity of actors, as a leading cause of both its intransigence and its appeal. She further examined the domestic politics, identity formation processes, and geopolitical contexts that help to form the varied voices that seek to be heard on the “comfort women” issue.

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Dr. Mary M. McCarthy is a Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington, and an associate professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. She received her B.A. in East Asian studies and her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. Dr. McCarthy specializes in Japan’s domestic and foreign policies. She has published on topics including the Japanese media, and cooperation and conflict between Japan and China in the East China Sea. Her current research examines the historical legacies of the Asia-Pacific War on Japan’s foreign relations. She is also a Mansfield Foundation US-Japan Network for the Future Scholar.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762