Japan, Korea, and the Issue of Comfort Women – Final and Irreversible Resolution..?

“Breaking news: South Korea and Japan have reached a deal to resolve the longstanding dispute over Korean women who were lured or forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II.”

It has been more than 70 years since the end of the gruesome World War II, and after all these years, there has not been one single apology made by the Japanese government regarding the issue of comfort women. These women were from countries that was under the Japanese rule including Korea, China, and the Philippines. Historians say anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 women – a majority of them Korean – served in Japan’s military brothels. These brothels were “comfort stations” for the Japanese military and were located in Japan, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines.

The agreement on the Military Sexual Slavery Issue during the Korea-Japan Ministerial Meeting specified that: first, Japanese government feels its responsibilities for the military sexual slavery; second, Prime Minister Abe apologizes as the representative of the Japanese government; and third, the Korean government establishes a foundation where Japanese government provides the funding while the two governments collaboratively manage initiatives.

An advocacy group for former comfort women (Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan) mentioned how the response given by the Japanese government “lacks the acknowledgment of the fact that the colonial government and its military had committed a systematic crime,” and “The government had not just been simply involved but actively initiated the activities which were criminal and illegal.”

In addition, the response from the citizens of South Korea is rather displeasing, as the apology was not directly made by the Prime Minister himself as the official representative of the government, but was read by a diplomatic representative, which was unclear to whom he was actually apologizing. Hence, many citizens find it hard to believe if it was a sincere apology.

However, what frustrated me the most personally, was the lack of clarity and the vagueness that the agreement had. Not only did the agreement among the two nations  fail to specify anything on preventative initiatives such as truth seeking, but it also failed to mention how Japan will seek to correct its falsified information published in their history textbooks regarding the Comfort Women. As the pace of global transformation continues to accelerate, it is more crucial than perhaps ever before to identify and understand the future of our world. But when the future leaders of our society is presented with falsified information, our future is in danger, as we will all be oblivious to the truth. Thus, asking what comes next is becoming more and more important. Today’s leaders – and those who will lead tomorrow – will be able to formulate a vision of a just future and the execution of their plans for a better world, both now and for years to come, from the controversial issues that threaten our humanity today.

 

Read more from The New York TimesAtlanticBloombergGuardian, and from CNN.

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