Apology for the Occupation of Korea and the Suffering of Military Sexual Slavery Survivors
In spring 2007, Japanese peace and reconciliation activists commissioned a memorial stone with the inscription “Unknown Civilians Killed in War” in English, and, below this, “In Apology, Friendship,and Peace” in Japanese and Korean. Joining together with Korean and American counterparts, including a representative of Peaceful Tomorrows, Andrea LeBlanc, they formed Stonewalk Korea 2007.
Pushing the one-ton stone in a cart in procession, they traveled through South Korea, starting in Pusan at the end of April and arriving in Panmunjeom, next to the DMZ, in June.
Stonewalk is a program of The Peace Abbey and The Life Experience School. The first Stonewalk pilgrimage in 1999 took 33 days, as the two-thousand-pound granite memorial stone inscribed with the words “Unknown Civilians Killed in War” was pulled 500 miles to Washington, DC. This grassroots movement educated many people with the message that civilians– ordinary people– die when bombs are dropped. The destruction of infrastructure leads to continued losses as a result of inadequate shelter, loss of resources, health issues, and disease. In 2000 the Memorial Stone traveled to Ireland and then on to England in 2001 connecting with the many people in these countries who have suffered as a result of war and violence.
In 2004, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows sponsored Stonewalk from Boston to New York. While the Memorial Stone was in New York during the month-long journey, members of the Japanese PeaceBoat joined Stonewalk from lower Manhattan to Riverside Church. Friendships formed there lead to a group 25 volunteers from the United States joining with many Japanese individuals to stage Stonewalk Japan for the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.