Most regions of the world have some conflict or another that defines their very existence. In the United States, the remaining passions of a Civil War that was fought about one-hundred and fifty years ago still burn bright in some areas. It goes to show that sometimes human beings just can't let go of certain pieces of history. That is definitely the case with the issue of South Korean comfort women.
<strong>Japan Vs. South Korea</strong>
The <a href=”https://japan-forward.com/200000-south-korean-wartime-sex-slaves-is-fake-news-says-historian-an-interview-with-dr-ikuhiko-hata/>comfort women stories</a> that you have heard likely come either from Japan or South Korea. These are the two countries were this issue festers the most. To be fair, there are comfort women testimonies from all over the world, but the Japanese-Korean conflict over them is the one that has had the most staying power.
At issue is the contention from South Korea that Japan took <a href=http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/6-months-later-the-comfort-women-agreement/>Korean comfort women</a> in large numbers during World War II to use for their own perverse pleasures. The Japanese deny that their military did this, instead insisting that any Korean women who were with them were there by choice. Neither side accepts the other's version of history, so we are stuck at an impasse.
<strong>Brokering A Deal</strong>
December of 2015 was not the first time that these two countries got together to try to broker some kind of deal on the comfort women issue, but it was perhaps the most notable. When Foreign Ministers from both countries exited the negotiating room, it seemed as if everyone was all smiles. Perhaps once and for all this issue had been resolved in a way that both sides would view as fair.
The Japanese <a href=http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/debate-south-korea-comfort-women-170127120244979.html>agreed</a> to establish a fund for former South Korean comfort women and at the same time express their sorry for any atrocities that may have happened during the war. They also had their Prime Minister come out and say that he apologized for any involvement by the military of Japan during World War II in the issue of Korean comfort women. It was a big step for the Prime Minister to make.
South Korea agreed that it would remove a statue that has been outside of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul for a very long time. The statue is of a comfort woman, and its removal would be a very good sign of easing relations between the two countries on this issue. Unfortunately, none of these things have yet happened, and they appear less likely to by the day.
<strong>The Debate Continues</strong>
Apparently, the agreement that the two sides came up with was just not enough to really stick. While both sides agreed to it at that time, they have both backed away from it considerably as time has gone on.
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The South Korean public is very split on how they feel about the deal in the first place. Many feel that it does not go far enough. Also, many would like to see the statue of the South Korean comfort woman remain outside the Japanese embassy. Young people in particular are not all that happy about the idea of getting rid of the statue. They want it to remain as a symbol of all that was wrong with what happened during that war.
Japan has backed off largely because of their Prime Minister. He does not necessarily see this deal as great politics. He is a nationalist figure in his country, and going along with this deal is not a great move for him domestically. As such, the implementation of the deal remains firmly stalled. This is an issue that just seems intractable in a lot of ways. Perhaps it is just too emotional and too much a part of both country's history to really move the needle on this one.
Image by <a href=”https://japan-forward.com/200000-south-korean-wartime-sex-slaves-is-fake-news-says-historian-an-interview-with-dr-ikuhiko-hata/”> Japan Forward </a>
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