Mayor Mark Farrell dedicated a directional sign pointing to all of San Francisco's 19 partnering Sister Cities at Hallidie Plaza in June 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor Mark Farrell dedicated a directional sign pointing to all of San Francisco's 19 partnering Sister Cities at Hallidie Plaza in June 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Osaka mayor moves to sever sister city ties with S.F. over comfort women memorial

The mayor of Osaka, Japan has informed Mayor London Breed that he was unilaterally withdrawing his city from a 61-year-old “sister-city” relationship with San Francisco to protest the installation of a memorial honoring “comfort women” who were sex-trafficked by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura this week sent a letter announcing his desire to withdraw from the largely ceremonial relationship.

“It is unfortunate that Mayor Yoshimura no longer wishes to maintain ties between the governments of San Francisco and Osaka,” said Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for Mayor London Breed. “However, we will remain sister cities via the people-to-people ties maintained by our San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Committee and their counterparts in Osaka.”

“Breaking the relationship over a memorial is outrageous and absurd,” said Lillian Sing, co-chair of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. “It shows how afraid the Osaka mayor and Japanese prime minister are of truth and are trying to deny history.”

SEE RELATED: Comfort women memorial makes sure women’s history is not forgotten

The Japanese consulate in San Francisco declined to comment.

The approval of the memorial at St. Mary’s Square in Chinatown drew heated testimony and intense opposition from the Japanese government, which has continued to lobby for its removal. The statue, which depicts three young girls standing in a circle, has been vandalized several times.

Sing said that roughly two dozen people from the Osaka Citizens Alliance recently visited San Francisco to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the memorial’s installation on Sept. 22.

“Osaka citizens came to support us, and came to give us a message for the mayor and Board of Supervisors that they oppose their mayor’s positions,” she said. “Citizens of Osaka stand in support and solidarity with us.”

Yoshimura reportedly first announced plans to withdraw from the sister-city relationship in November, but had not followed through due in part to the death of Mayor Ed Lee in December.

Artist Steven Whyte’s piece was selected as the winner for San Francisco’s proposed “comfort women” memorial in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. (Courtesy San Francisco Arts Commission)

Politics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Most Read