South Korean Foreign Minister Says Seoul Will Not Seek Renegotiation of Comfort Women Deal with Japan

Here is the latest on the comfort women issue between Korea and Japan:

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announces in a press conference Tuesday that South Korea will not seek a renegotiation of a controversial 2015 deal it reached with Japan to settle the issue of women forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops before and during World War II. [YONHAP]

Seoul does not plan to scrap or renegotiate the 2015 bilateral deal on the so-called comfort women, announced Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha Tuesday, though she underscored that the agreement is not a true resolution to the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.

The Korean government also plans to raise a fund equivalent to the 1 billion yen ($8.87 million) transferred by Tokyo to a foundation formed under the 2015 agreement for the victims of the Japanese Imperial Army’s forced recruitment of young women into sexual slavery before and during World War II, who are euphemistically referred to as comfort women.

“It is an undeniable fact that that the 2015 deal was an official agreement reached between the two countries, and we will not demand a renegotiation from the Japanese government,” Kang told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.

The decision was reached after a Foreign Ministry task force spent months reviewing the negotiating process and contents of the 2015 deal, gathering survivors’ viewpoints and taking into consideration Korea-Japan relations, Kang added.

The two countries’ foreign ministries struck a deal on Dec. 28, 2015 to resolve the comfort women issue, which included an apology by the Japanese government and a 1 billion yen fund for the victims. The agreement provoked an immediate backlash from some survivors and civic organizations, who claimed Japan should take clearer legal responsibility by paying reparations.

The Korean Foreign Ministry launched a nine-member task force at the end of July comprised of foreign affairs officials and experts in Korea-Japan relations, international law and human rights. The task force was charged with assessing how the deal was reached and to pay more attention to the viewpoints of the victims, who had expressed disappointment at being left out of the negotiation process by the Park Geun-hye administration.

President Moon Jae-in has emphasized that the agreement is not accepted by the general public in Korea and called it “flawed.”

While Seoul does not plan to renegotiate or scrap the deal, Kang encouraged Japan to “accept the truth as it is, according to universally-accepted standards,” to help restore the honor and dignity of the victims and heal the wounds in their hearts.

“What the victims all wish for is a genuine apology [of Japan’s] own accord,” Kang added.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but I think the Japanese public has probably hit apology fatigue with all the demands for more apologies after their government has already made a number of apologies. Prime Minister Abe could apologize again and commit seppuku on top of Namsan and there would still be people complaining for more apologies.

That is why I have long believed that if Japanese Prime Minister Abe was really clever he should apologize for war time sexual slavery again, but this time in a large public speech to draw maximum media attention. During this speech then announce that Japan to atone for its past sins would become a champion of women’s rights beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore.

North Korean women trafficked in the sex industry in China are the modern day comfort women that the Chinese and South Koreans do nothing to stop.  Japan becoming an advocate for these women would expose the current hypocrisy of their critics on this issue.

Picture of the Day: President Moon Meets with Comfort Women

Moon meets ex-sex slaves

President Moon Jae-in (C, rear) meets two victims of sexual enslavement by the Japanese military during World War II to have lunch with them at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Jan. 4, 2018, in this photo released by his office. Moon reiterated his stance that a 2015 deal between Seoul and Tokyo on ending their longstanding dispute over former wartime sex slaves is defective but said the incumbent government may still work with the agreement to resolve the issue. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Last Comfort Woman Rally of 2017

This year's last 'comfort women' rally

Participants, along with a girl statue symbolizing a “comfort woman,” sit on 300 chairs placed at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul in a performance themed “A Promise Inscribed on an Empty Chair” after finishing this year’s final weekly rally in front of the Japanese Embassy on Dec. 27, 2017, calling for Japan’s apology for its army’s sexual enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Korean women during World War II. Such victims are euphemistically called “comfort women.” Portraits of late comfort women and chrysanthemums are placed on the chairs. (Yonhap)

South Korean Government Criticizes Political Compromise of Comfort Women Agreement with Japan

When it comes to the comfort women issue the Moon administration has made it clear that there will be no compromise with Japan:

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha bowed her head expressing regret over a controversial comfort women deal that she said has left scars to the hearts of victims and their families during a press conference held in Seoul on Dec. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s previous government of ousted President Park Geun-hye kept part of a 2015 deal with Japan on resolving the issue of wartime sexual slavery secret from the public in order to avoid criticism of concessions made to Tokyo, a task force said Wednesday.

After months of looking into how the unpopular deal was reached, the foreign ministry task force also said that the Park administration failed to make adequate efforts to listen to victims before reaching the agreement.

It called for the government to come up with a longer-term approach to resolve such a historical matter as the so-called comfort women issue, saying that “give-and-take” negotiations or political compromise could not be the ultimate solution.

“A victims-centered approach, which has become the norm when it comes to the human rights of women in time of war, has not been sufficiently reflected and the deal was reached through give-and-take negotiations like an ordinary diplomatic agenda” the task force said in its 31-page report on the outcome of its review.

“The agreement was finalized mostly based on government views without adequately taking into account the opinions of victims in the process of negotiation,” it added.

The findings are expected to make the already unpopular deal even more so, and could spark stronger calls for renegotiation, a move sure to strain relations between the two neighboring countries.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but according to the article despite the supposed anger of the comfort women with the agreement, 36 out of 47 of them took the compensation money from Japan.

With that all said when is the Korean government going to demand that China apologize and pay compensation for all the Koreans they killed and their near success of destroying the Republic of Korea during the Korean War?  That is more recent history then the World War II era comfort women issue.

Picture of the Day: Protest Against 2015 Comfort Women Agreement

Calling for abolition of 2015 comfort women deal

A group of civic activists in front of the foreign ministry in Seoul on Dec. 27, 2017, calls for the scrapping of an agreement made between the South Korean and Japanese governments in 2015 over issues surrounding the Japanese military’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. Earlier in the day, a foreign ministry task force announced the outcomes of its five-month review, concluding that the accord lacked efforts to listen to victims, euphemistically called “comfort women,” before reaching the deal. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Comfort Women on Truk

New records of comfort women found for South Pacific island

These photos provided by the Seoul City government on Dec. 11, 2017, show South Korean comfort women who were taken to the South Pacific island of Truk. City officials said they found U.S. military documents and other material that show 26 Korean women were taken to the South Pacific island as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II. The Japanese military had a naval fleet on the island. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Comfort Woman Statue Unveiled in Chuncheon

Comfort woman statue in Chuncheon

A child touches a statue symbolizing comfort women in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, after it was unveiled on Dec. 9, 2017. The term “comfort women” refer to tens of thousands of women, most of them Koreans, who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Comfort Woman Statue In New York City

Choo Mi-ae

Choo Mi-ae, leader of the ruling Democratic Party, holds the hands of a “comfort woman” statue at Museum of Korean American Heritage in New York on Nov. 17, 2017 (New York time). Comfort women refer to those who were forcibly taken to Japanese front-line military brothels during World War II. (Yonhap)

Japanese Nationalists Call South Korean State Dinner an Anti-Japanese Banquet

It figures that the Moon Jae-in administration would find a way to stick to the Japanese during President Trump’s visit:

U.S. President Donald Trump hugs sex slavery victim Lee Yong-soo at a state dinner at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

The rightwing government in Tokyo was duly incensed when Korea served U.S. President Donald Trump shrimp caught near Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, to which Japan maintains a flimsy colonial claim.

Worse in the eyes of the nationalists in Japan was the invitation to a state dinner for Trump on Tuesday of a victim of imperial Japan’s sexual enslavement of women during World War II.

Tokyo protested through diplomatic channels that Cheong Wa Dae’s invitation of sex slavery victim Lee Yong-soo to the state dinner is “against the purport” of a 2015 agreement to compensate the women, which was once described as “a final and irreversible resolution,” according to the Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday.

The controversial deal, which trades indirect compensation for a promise to remove memorials for the victims from the vicinity of Japanese diplomatic missions, makes no mention of what events the victims of the atrocity can or cannot be invited to.

The new government of President Moon Jae-in wants to reverse it.   [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but why were the victims of Chinese and North Korean atrocities not invited to the state dinner?

Korean Appeals Court Overturns Acquittal of Academic Who Wrote Balanced History of the Comfort Women

Just another example that South Korea is a “rule by law” not a “rule of law” country:

Professor Park Yu-ha (C) at Seoul-based Sejong University leaves the Seoul Eastern District Court on Jan. 25, 2017, after the court acquitted her of defaming women who were sexually enslaved by Tokyo during World War II. (Yonhap)

An appeals court in Seoul overturned a lower-court acquittal of a professor and fined her on Friday, finding her guilty of charges that she defamed victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery with her book.

The Seoul High Court handed down a fine of 10 million won ($8,846) to Park Yu-ha, a Sejong University professor, who was charged with defaming sexual slavery victims, known as “comfort women,” with her controversial book “Comfort Women of the Empire.”

Victims and other critics claimed the book disputes the coerciveness of the “comfort women” system.

Friday’s verdict overturned the lower court’s decision in January that she is not guilty because academic freedom is a basic right guaranteed by the Constitution.  [Korea Times]

This whole controversy shows that in South Korea if you say or write something unpopular the government can use the defamation law to prosecute you to shut you up even if what you right is true.

In regards to the comfort women issue I recommend reading my prior post on this subject.