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Japanese Prime Minister skirts confrontation with Harvard protesters

An estimated 150 students participated in a protest Monday urging Prime Minister Abe to acknowledge Japan's past wrongdoings.
By Elizabeth Shim   |   April 27, 2015 at 10:40 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 27 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official visit to the United States to bolster bilateral ties was overshadowed by a visit to Harvard University, where comfort women activists and student protesters called for Abe to apologize for wartime misconduct.

During a nine-minute speech, Abe said he acknowledged "those people who were victimized by human trafficking and who were subject to immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description," reported the Harvard Gazette. But one student activist said he was less than satisfied with the prime minister's response.

"Yong-soo Lee, a former comfort woman, spoke to a group of Harvard students yesterday about how she was literally dragged from her home and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II," said Joe Lee Choi, a Harvard College sophomore.

Abe has previously stated he did not agree with the 1993 Kono Statement, which acknowledged Japan's coercion of women into military sex camps. His critics have said he has tried to whitewash history to revive nationalism and to maintain power.

Outside the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, student protesters and comfort women activists had gathered to protest Abe's actions.

Lee Yong-soo, 86, a South Korean activist and former comfort woman sat in a wheelchair and held a placard that read, "I am a survivor of Japanese military sexual slavery." She also wore a mask marked with a black 'X' that symbolized the shaming and silencing of the survivors of wartime camps.

An estimated 150 students participated in the protest Monday, bearing signs that read, "You can rewrite history, but you cannot rewrite the truth," and "Time is running out," a reference to the aging survivors.

Yonhap reported Abe arrived earlier than expected to give his speech at the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus and that he used the back door to enter the building in order to avoid the protesters. Inside, security guards surrounded the podium where Abe stood, and attendees were told to confiscate their water bottles.

Lee, who was waiting for Abe said, "If he is confident as the prime minister of a country, then he should boldly go through the front door."

"What is he afraid of," she said.

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Poll: Most Boston residents against death penalty for Boston bomber

By Thor Benson Contact the Author   |   April 27, 2015 at 9:04 PM
The FBI released a photo of Suspect 2, now identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 19, 2013. He and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are suspected of planting the bombs that killed three and injured 170 during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan was killed by police on April 18, 2013 and Dzhokhar is still on the loose near Boston. UPI
BOSTON, April 27 (UPI) -- According to a new poll, most Boston and Massachusetts residents are against the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The poll, from the Boston Globe, found less than 20 percent of Massachusetts residents supported the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bomber. Only 15 percent of Boston residents believe he should be executed. One-third of Massachusetts residents and one-quarter of Boston residents believe execution is typically appropriate for egregious crimes.

"It seems that voters have concluded that Tsarnaev does not deserve a quick death, but rather should spend the remainder of his days in a windowless cell contemplating the heinous acts that put him there," Frank Perullo, president of Sage Systems LLC, which conducted the poll, told the Globe. "To voters, it would seem death is too easy an escape."

Tsarnaev, who is 21 years old, was found guilty on 30 counts for the 2013 bombing. The bombing killed three people and injured 260. His defense team is fighting for a life sentence with no chance of parole, as opposed to a death sentence. He will only get the death sentence if all jurors agree on it.

© 2015 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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