The long-standing dispute between South Korea and Japan has finally been resolved. However, there is a lot of backlash and still some loose ends. It has also been stirring up public criticism. Above all else, the victims strongly oppose it. The issue is about Korean “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reached a landmark agreement on the thorny issue of the so-called “comfort women” forced by the Japanese military, after talks at the Foreign Ministry in Sejong-ro, Seoul, on December 28. With regard to the results of the agreement, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said, “The leaders of ROK and Japan agreed to accelerate talks on the issue in their summit on November 2, and the two countries had multiple rounds of director-level talks to settle the issue promptly. So far, various ways have been discussed, and it has brought forth a landmark agreement between South Korea and Japan.”
Under this agreement, the South Korean government will establish a foundation for the purpose of providing support for the former comfort women, and the Japanese government will contribute from its budget a lump sum funding to the foundation. The compensation fund is one billion yen ($8.3 million).
Foreign Minister Kishida read a statement from Abe at a joint press conference. He said in the statement, “Prime Minister Abe expresses apology and remorse from the heart for all the people suffering hard-to-cure wounds physically and psychologically. The Japanese government strongly feels responsibility for the comfort women issue from the perspective that the honor and dignity of many women were deeply scarred under the involvement of the Imperial Japanese Army.”
The statement, however, failed to clearly stipulate the “legal responsibility.”
Lee Yong-soo, one of the victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery, strongly opposed the deal between South Korea and Japan, saying, “I dismiss it in its entirety.” She said during a press conference, “This agreement seems to have been made without having the victims in mind.”
Ms. Lee also said with emphasis, “What we want is not monetary compensation, but a legal one.” She added, “There is a clear difference between just a payment and official compensation paid as a result of a crime.”
Additionally, she stated, “We have cried out for an official apology and legal compensation from Japan for all these years, but Japan still denies its wrongdoings.” She also denounced that South Korean officials in consultation agreement with the Japanese never sought her opinion with other “comfort women” survivors, saying, “We’re not after the money. If the Japanese committed their sins, they should offer direct official government compensation.”
Reporter Lee Seul[firstname.lastname@example.org]