Former WWII 'comfort woman' honored with commendation from San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco could become the first large city in the country to honor victims known as "comfort women" during World War II. Those women are now in their 80s and 90s and one visited San Francisco Tuesday to support a memorial.

Yong Soo Lee says she made the long journey from Seoul, South Korea to San Francisco on behalf of thousands of others.

"The rest of the women they have the same heart and the same thinking as I do," Lee said.

Lee is one of an estimated 200,000 women taken from their homes by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and forced to become what Japan euphemistically called comfort women for their soldiers.

"Japanese forcibly took me away and made me a sex slave, but the government is still not making an apology," Lee said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to issue a formal apology.

San Francisco supervisor Eric Mar presented Lee with a commendation and he's pushing for San Francisco to become the first large American city to install a memorial honoring the women like 87-year-old Lee.

"That has an example of courage and a story of breaking silence over generations," Mar said.

His office says there's no official opposition, though some concern in the Japanese community. Supporters believe this dark chapter in history and its victims should be recognized.

"They are old, they are weak, they are poor, but we know what's the truth," said Phyllis Kim, a member of the Korean American Forum.

Lee will testify before the supervisors later this week in San Francisco.
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