Japanese group lodging 18C discrimination case against church’s war memorial

Somedays reading the news you’d think the world has gone politically correct mad! There’s been a lot of furore over
The memorial to 'comfort women' at the Ashfield Uniting Church. Source: YouTube

Somedays reading the news you’d think the world has gone politically correct mad!

There’s been a lot of furore over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, particularly over the words “offend” and “insult”.

During the past year there have been some notable cases where 18C has been claimed, including the QUT students who used an Indigenous only computer lab and a cartoonist taking action against an Aboriginal MP for her “middle aged white men” comments.

Now it’s being used again, and this time a Japanese community is using 18C to lodge a discrimination case against a church’s war memorial.

You might be wondering how a war memorial could possibly be deemed racist?

Well, according to the Australia-Japan Community Network, the Ashfield Uniting Church’s memorial to World War II sex slaves (comfort women) is “a hurtful historical symbol”.

Australia-Japan Community Network president Tetsuhide Yamaoka told the ABC the group weren’t making the complaint to be political.

“We are doing this only responding to the concerns raised by local mothers and fathers — the parents,” he said.

“This hurtful historical symbol is detrimental to the local community and will only result in generating offence and racial hate.

“We have seen many negative things happening overseas and start happening in Australia in relation to this ‘comfort women’ thing because it’s not a pure commemoration as such, it’s highly politically motivated.”

So, what are comfort women?

Well, according to the memorial ‘Comfort Women’  “were forced into sexual slavery by the military of the government of imperial Japan”.

Apparently as many as 200,000 Korean and Chinese women were forced into sexual slavery as ‘comfort women’ during World War II.

If you think the Japanese community’s complaint is ridiculous, you’re not alone.

The Ashfield Uniting Church’s Reverend Bill Crews has described the complaint as “outrageous”.

“I just find it outrageous … bring it on,” he told the ABC.

“It’s not against the Japanese people, it’s for the women who suffered in war.

“To find that people are saddened by it really saddens me because it’s more about hope, it’s more about saying, ‘let’s build a better world where things like this don’t happen and never happen again’.”

This news has ignited more debate about 18C, with opponents arguing cases such as this are the exact reason section 18C is under review.

What do you think about this? Is it just another case of political correctness gone mad?



  1. Russell Grenning  

    The key words in Section 18C are “offend” and “insult” – NOT “offend” and “result”

  2. colin  

    Did the Church think to check first and ask the victims. It is a reminder of gross degradation that really Australia had nothing to do with. total waste of money

  3. robgee  

    Yes SAS it is “insult”. Back to the complaint, yes we are going politically correct mad. With regard to Colin’s remark, we need to remember things like this and the mass slaughter of Jews and Poles and other unacceptable races by the Nazis etc so that hopefully we wont let it happen again.

    Both sides of the crime need to remember, and if it is an “offense” to the side that committed the atrocity, so much the better.

  4. Wiso  

    18C not only needs to be amended…it needs to be abolished. It is legislation like this that continues to divide and incite hatred.

  5. Alan  

    Those things actually happened and should NEVER just be swept under the carpet to avoid offending those who would rather just forget it ever happened. The Germans I believe have enabled laws to ensure that the holocaust is something that can never again take place in Germany, even to the point where it is illegal to deny it ever happened (as some like to do). In Japan’s case however, they seem to be increasingly interested in just putting the war atrocities into the background to be conveniently forgotten about with little or no laws or safeguards to ensure such things never occur again in the future.

  6. Heather  

    The problem is the Japanese people have not been taught about the war. I worked with middle aged Japanese ladies who asked my why Australians disliked Japanese. If they don’t understand the historical side it would not make sense. Everyone, including white Australians, have to acknowledge the wrongs committed by past generations.

    • Melda  

      Your last sentence?

      You, & many others’ forget what was done in this Country, by ‘white Australians’, (your words’), was done in the best interests’ of the indigenous, at THAT time, with the knowledge, & resources’ to hand at THAT time!

      It’s all very well & good to ‘criticise’ white Europeans’ of the 18th, 19th, & 20th Centuries’, in hindsight.
      They didn’t have at their disposal all that’s available nowadays’, in any way, shape or form.

  7. Christine  

    This is EXACTLY why 18c needs to be abolished!
    What utter tripe that the ‘Japanese’ community is offended!

    Their vily cruel, & barbarous ancestors’ during WWII didn’t seem to mind ‘offending’ whomsoever they wanted!

    Much of it in very CRUEL ways’, like crucifying Priests’ upside down, as a mockery to their Christ, until they died.
    Making Australian , & other Nationalities’ Serving Nurses, walk into the ocean, then shoot them in the back, as if they, the Nurses’, were cowards’, which, of course, they were NOT!
    Quite the opposite!
    Who can forget the Sandakan March? The starving of Prisoners’, against ‘War Conventions’, in place at the time?
    The cruelty to the Burma Railway PoW’s, many of whom were only saved by the marvellous Aussie, ‘Weary’ Dunlop?

    An Australian-Dutch lady wrote of her ‘experiences’, & those of others’, as ‘comfort women’.
    These current Japanese ‘objecting’ to the Memorial, should be ‘forced’ to read her book.
    Maybe THEN they might come to their senses’, but I doubt it, as they’re ‘brain-wired’ to be like they are.

  8. Christine  

    Book of which I wrote above is:

    ‘Fifty Years’ of Silence’, by Jan Ruff-O’Hearne………

  9. Russell Grenning  

    Imagine the outrage if Australians of German descent complained to the Human Rights Commission about Museums commemorating the Holocaust – and there are four in Australia including the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Centre – because they were offensive to them. The Japanese both in their own country and elsewhere still remain deliberately blind or deliberately uninformed – the result is the same – about the wartime activities of the extraordinarily brutal Imperial Japanese military – even the current Japanese PM has paid a respectful visit to the cemetery that includes the remains of convicted war criminals. If the German Chancellor went to a cemetery full of SS and Gestapo officers there would be a huge international outcry.

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