Korean 'Comfort Women' Still Protesting Decades Later

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Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 12:36 p.m. DST, 25 June 2014

Photo by: Melissa Wall "Unveiling of Comfort Women Memorial"SEOUL, South Korea -- Elderly Korean women (euphemistically referred to as “comfort women”) who were forced into prostitution as teenagers during WWII, have gathered every Wednesday since 8 January, 1992, outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest the atrocities they faced. These demonstrations are now lauded by guidebooks and travel websites as a must-see for tourists to Seoul.

Though groups of Japanese tourists come to apologize to these determined women, the Japanese government has refused to apologize. The women are hoping the Japanese government will issue an official apology and provide reparations to those forced into sexual slavery. Japan’s response is that this compensation was settled with the 1994 “Asian Women’s Fund.” South Korea rejected the fund because it is a semi-private organization run by volunteers, and not under the authority of the government.

In 2007 the U.S. House of Representatives, passed a non-binding resolution that called on Japan to apologize for forcing these women into prostitution. In April, President Obama called on Japan to acknowledge their past wrong-doings, saying, "This was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights. Those women were violated in ways that, even in the midst of war, were shocking.” Obama also called on Seoul to look to the future and be more flexible in its relations with Japan to ensure better cooperation between the two countries.

Japan responded that the issue of wartime sex slavery is not a political or diplomatic subject. The issue is a hindrance to Tokyo’s relations with East Asia, and South Korea in particular.

Despite their dwindling numbers, with fewer than 100 Korean comfort women still alive, one survivor, Hwang Geum-joo says, ”Our numbers are dwindling every year, but we are still full of anger and they should apologize for what they did to us!” Around 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, but also from China, Taiwan, and Indonesia, were forced into brothels to serve Japanese imperial troops. Many were abducted from their homes or duped into forced prostitution after responding to calls to work as nurses and factory workers. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and other members of the political right continue to doubt these women, instead, claiming professional prostitutes staffed the brothels.

Monday, June 23, 2014, South Korea protested an appearance by Japan’s ambassador, condemning Tokyo’s review of a noteworthy 1993 apology for the wartime sex slavery. The review made the claim that there was no evidence to confirm the forced sexual misconduct.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying is also urging Japan to address the problematic history of sexual exploitation. Japan invaded China in 1937 and held an authoritarian rule for eight years.

In 2011 on the occasion of the 1,000th demonstration, the organizers erected the Pyeonghwa-bu Peace Monument, a statue of a barefooted-teenage Korean girl, with her hands in her lap, and a small bird on her left shoulder representing peace and freedom. The women offer monthly tours of the 'House of Sharing,' a benefit center for survivors of Japanese sex slavery, where many of the ladies now live.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick

Ascendancy of the Yuan, Signals Dollars Decline

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:15 PM EDT, 1 June 2012

US Dollar Burning, Photo by Images of MoneyWASHINGTON, DC - For decades the American public was warned of the impending crash of the U.S. dollar. Economist sounded the alarm far in advance of the 2007–2012 global financial crises, which was the result of a confluence of complex financial events. However, to simplify the catastrophic cascade of financial market collapses, the root causes were high-levels of global debt, risky and speculative investment practices, and unchecked avarice.

High-net worth individuals will be able to weather the storm of the impending diminution of the dollar’s value, but people of moderate to impecunious means will suffer levels of hardship not witnessed since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In 2004, then Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan prognosticated, “Foreigners will eventually sour on U.S. bonds and the dollar because of America's bulging trade and budget deficits, posing significant risks to the nation's economy.

Greenspan told a banking conference in Frankfurt, Germany, that international investors were likely to either unload their dollar-denominated investments or demand higher interest rates. Either scenario would present problems for an economy that is heavily dependent on foreign capital to fuel its free-spending ways.” (Source: LA Times)

Eight years later, billionaire market movers such as Warren Buffet are more insistent and vociferous in warning Americans of the real possibility of the removal of the dollar as the global reserve currency. Unfortunately, most Americans have little bandwidth to digest or calculate the exact impact a change of this magnitude will have on their lives. The average American in recent years has been focused on how to pay for gas, put food on their table, and cover the cost of every day needs with less money.

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Published: 1 June 2012 (Page 2 of 3)

During this U.S. election season, politicians bandy about well-worn slogans that make it seem as if the decline of the U.S. dollar is a partisan issue. However, the $15.7 trillion deficit that plagues America is not a partisan issue, though the Republicans, Democrats, and Independent candidates who campaign on this platform would have you believe otherwise. In sonorous speeches to preselected audiences, these politicians deliver performances worthy of the man behind the mirror in the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ but this is no laughing matter.

What is truly behind the curtain is the reality that America’s debt is almost wholly owned by foreign nations with China owning the lion share. How China effectively waged and is winning this quiet war is best described by the Chinese proverb, “When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, and then attack something he holds dear. Know that he cannot be superior in all things. Somewhere there is a gap in the armor a weakness that can be attacked instead.”

In 1956, Chairman Mao Zedong stated, “If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world,” a statement that makes the overthrow of the dollar anything but accidental.

In 2005, Herbert Franz Schurmann, noted historian, emeritus professor of history and sociology at U.C. Berkeley, wrote an in-depth, historical article for New America Media in which he outlines the ascendancy of the yuan as the new reserve currency.

"Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a military conflict by borrowing money from somewhere else," Former President Bill Clinton said. He pointed out that the Chinese keep loaning us money "for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Katrina."

As a result, the Chinese yuan is silently beginning to look like a universal currency. It plentifully delivers everyday economic values without devaluation. It has enough money to finance capital anywhere and anytime. And it is a "safest currency" or a "safe haven."

Not so long ago, Hong Kong banks did not handle yuan. Now they handle not only mainland China yuan but most of the Indian Ocean countries' currencies. Even Kuwait, which houses a major American base also deals in yuan. Russia and former Soviet republics have for some time welcomed the yuan.

China and Japan have started direct currency trading as Beijing marked another stage on its journey to foster the Yuan's use internationally. "Yuan-yen direct trading is just a small step toward making the yuan a reserve currency.” (New American Media)

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Published: 1 June 2012 (Page 3 of 3)

The Federal Reserve estimates that the majority of the U.S. cash in circulation today is outside the United States, (Source: New York Fed) and since the 2008 global financial crisis, China, the largest holder of U.S. debt has divested $238bn of those holdings in currency swap agreements with dozens of countries. As of 2010, Japan held $800bn which makes the news of the two countries bilateral agreement to engage in direct yuan yen trading, an ominous portent of further economic upheaval for American citizens.

What does this mean for the average American? Many witnessed the rapid depreciation of their stock market investments during the crash; I personally lost 50% of the value of my modest portfolio. Others lost the total value of their largest asset, their homes, as the housing market sunk into a morass of foreclosures.

Though it seems as if the worst is over, the growing chatter about the replacement of the U.S. dollar by the Chinese yuan as the global reserve currency signals even deeper, more prolonged economic difficulties for Americans and those individuals and countries heavily invested in the dollar.

However, for the Forbes 400 whose portfolios and holding are incredibly diversified, a switch from the dollar to the yuan may be slightly inconvenient, but may have relatively little impact on the total value of their assets.

For average Americans, the choices are more limited but not insurmountable. These include but are not limited to buying precious metal coins which are easily transportable and transferable, and the second is to start a business.

Alan Uke has written a practical guide to help readers bring this seemingly gargantuan problem into perspective and he outlines tangible, actionable steps toward preventing the national tragedy that is looming on the horizon.

Aptly titled, “Buying America Back: A Real-Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity,” it is educational and inspirational, because as Betty Williams said, “There's no use talking about the problem unless you talk about the solution.”

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Japan still coping with human, economic costs of tsunami one year later

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Japan has also been impacted by the global economic downturn, and the Tohoku quake has further exacerbated its economic recovery efforts.

In addition to the socioeconomic challenges, Japan must now contend with the daunting task of clean-up of the ongoing level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex where the tsunami flood waters are now leaking radioactive waste into the ground water.