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Tensions linger in US over “comfort women” plaques

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — Four years ago, noticing plaques at the county courthouse commemorating slavery, the Holocaust and other atrocities, Korean-American community leader Chejin Park struck upon the idea of adding a tribute to the "comfort women" of World War II.

To his surprise, the seemingly small, local gesture — to honor the more than 200,000 mostly Korean and Chinese women forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers — would make a tiny northern New Jersey town a flashpoint in an international controversy.

Local officials would rebuff a request by Japanese officials to take down the first plaque put up just over two years ago in the town of Palisades Park, a square-mile borough outside New York where a majority of residents are of Korean descent.

But now the dedication of a second marker, this one at the courthouse whose memorials had inspired Park, has been held up until the wording can be changed to remove a reference to the Japanese government.

The top government official in Bergen County, Kathleen Donovan, said the delay is due to a mix-up, not any new pressure from Japanese officials.

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