Former Japanese prime minister meets ‘comfort women’


Tomiichi Murayama, whose time as prime minister is remembered for his 1995 apology over wartime aggression, met Tuesday with three South Korean “comfort women” who served as sex slaves to Japanese troops.

“Please stay healthy,” the 89-year-old Murayama told the women as he clasped their hands at an exhibition of artworks by comfort women being held in the South Korean parliament complex in Seoul.

One of the three women, Kang Ul-Chul, told Murayama through an interpreter that the Japanese government should apologize properly to the former sex slaves and provide compensation.

They also presented him with one of the artworks, titled “Flower destroyed unbloomed.”

Murayama served as prime minister from 1994 to 1996 and is best remembered for his 1995 speech in which he publicly apologized for Japanese atrocities during World War II.

Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula remains a hugely emotional issue in South Korea, which believes Japan has failed to live up to the spirit of the 1995 apology and not properly atoned for its past aggression.

Relations hit a new low in December when the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates around 2.5 million Japanese war dead — including several high-level war criminals.

Murayama arrived Tuesday for a three-day visit at the invitation of an opposition party.

He reportedly requested a meeting with President Park Geun-hye but was turned down on account of her “busy schedule.”

Park has made it clear she will not hold a summit with Abe until he takes steps to address South Korea’s historical grievances.

  • Zamb

    I agree with you on this. I guess I learn new stuff everyday. China’s crimes against Tibet and the Buddhists were grim as well. All nations have grim moments in their pasts, and the people of every nation must be made aware of that in full validity.

    Also, I don’t like how China try to claim so many islands from many nations; they already are the 4th largest country by land area in the world. I’ve heard that they didn’t care about the Diaoyu islands, that is UNTIL it was found that oil was likely to be there, which is an act of greed! I don’t know who should have sovereignty, and quite frankly I couldn’t give a toss, as I’m sick of hearing about it. It’s like something they’re going to war over (How childish! Over tiny islands! Just for MONEY/OIL). I don’t think China’s government realise how much they’re scaring other Asian nations, particularly SE Asian nations. Worse, he’s prompting Abe to go to war over this. I don’t really want a WWIII happening.

    Every nations should just diplomatically sort things out, e.g. have a ‘list’ of things they need to address like crimes commited by their nation. China and Japan could potentially be great economic partners… if they both got over their childish arguments and disputes! Japan needs to apologize, sort things out. China needs to do the same with Tibet! Every nation has things that must be apologized for in their name.

    I’m just worried about Japan’s future, as I can’t see Japan existing by the 22nd Century, if not before, at this rate; the youth of Japan are so reluctant to have families for many reasons, and the population is dwindling. Meanwhile, Abe and his pack are gearing up for war against a country with the largest army in the world by active personnel and 250 nukes, while their own country is heading for collapse, which is an absolutely stupid idea! War is unnecessary in most circumstances anyway. He makes David Cameron, UK PM, look good in contrast to him. But worse, the people affected by Fukushima are still in danger. Fukushima Daiichi will not get better too soon…

    I’m also losing hope in Japanese people, as I’ve noticed that quite a lot of them they seem to vote in elections like sheep. They believe every single word that they’re told by any government member, and vote for them! They’re too innocent, really. I’m really, really worried… War is nasty.

    Murayama is doing a great job! I just wish the government now would take after him. He seems like a good guy.

  • RothschildIsMoney

    Pack up the breathless hyperbole. There’s no history revisionism going on with Tibet. The current Chinese was a victim of the cultural revolution, the great leap forward, etc.. everyone knows what a disaster China’s past was.

    Japan on the other hand, still worships their WW2 ‘heroes’.

    • OgonBat87

      It’s not hyperbole. Injustices continue against the Tibetans to this day. Tibet is currently OCCUPIED by China. These are the facts about Tibet.

      Human rights in Tibet

      Tibetans’ civil and political rights are under constant attack by the Chinese authorities who will stop at nothing to suppress dissent.

      Every aspect of Tibetan life is under siege from a Chinese leadership determined to gradually eradicate a whole culture.

      The Tibetan flag and national anthem are banned. Possession of a picture of the Dalai Lama can result in torture and imprisonment.

      Even children face abuses of their freedom and human rights in Tibet.

      No right to protest

      Tibetans are not free to protest or openly speak about their situation. Even peaceful demonstrations are met with heavy handed, military crackdowns.

      In 2008, thousands of Tibetans staged the largest protests in Tibet for over 50 years. Demonstrations swept across the entire Tibetan plateau.

      Chinese authorities arrested an estimated 6,000 protestors, of which the fate of about 1,000 still remains unknown.

      The upsurge in protests and self-immolations in 2011, 2012 and into 2013 has led the Chinese authorities to step up security even further and tighten its stranglehold on Tibet.

      Political prisoners tortured

      Prisons in Tibet are full of people detained for simply expressing their desire for freedom. People have been arrested and sentenced to prison for peaceful acts, such as:

      waving the Tibetan flag

      distributing leaflets

      sending information about events in Tibet abroad

      The Chinese deem these acts as ‘splittist’ or ‘subversive’.

      Many Tibetans are imprisoned on unclear or unspecified charges, their families not informed of their whereabouts.

      Released prisoners report of having been subjected to beatings, electric shocks, and being deprived of food and drink. A 2008 UN report found that the use of torture in Tibet was ‘widespread’ and ‘routine’.

      Read more about torture in Tibet.

      Restricting information

      China attempts to control all information in and out of Tibet. TV, radio, printed media and the internet are subjected to strict monitoring and censorship.

      Access is blocked to TV and radio broadcasters based outside China, which provide news services in Tibetan languages.

      Foreign journalists are rarely allowed entry into Tibet, and when they are, they are closely chaperoned by Chinese officials.

      Reporters Without Borders ranked China 174 out of the 179 countries on its Press Freedom Index 2011/12.

      Lack of religious freedom

      Buddhism is central to Tibetan life and monasteries and nunneries are kept under tight surveillance. Police stations are often situated nearby (or inside).

      Monks and nuns are regularly subjected to ‘patriotic re-education programmes’, for weeks at a time.

      During these programmes, they are forced to read ‘patriotic’ literature denouncing the Dalai Lama.

      Those who refuse to take part, or fail the programme, often have their rights to practice as monks and nuns taken away.

      • RothschildIsMoney

        Thank you for wasting my time to read that damn long winded comments. As someone who understand China, sorry but still I take your statement as hyperbole. Either you are badly informed or you just infected with ignorance. But It is amazing how you can invented all sorts of dastardly tales with hysterical claims and run this through as if it is ‘fact’ or ‘legal’.

        First of all, I’m not arguing if China is not the good guy. Off course China is not innocent. Human rights violations made by China did happen. But if anything a similar scale like what was in Mao era, does not happen anymore. Nowadays, Tibetans already live better off. Their living standard improved gradually as China’s economy keep progressing. But please don’t take my word for it. You can check by yourself. Find a cheap flight, take a trip. Have a sightseeing around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Now compare that to 4 decades ago. Heck.. even 6 decades ago. Where Tibet still a Theocratic state. Just like what Dalai Lama wants it. Where it was far worse in every sense than modern China.

        But obviously you not convinced. Because you are not interested in this topic in more depth. You need to consider from variety of side & multiple point of view before making such stance that you thought you have the moral high ground. It’s very dangerous to start casting things as being binary issues, where one side is always absolutely right and the other always in the wrong.

        Now, self-immolation is not the only way to protest, nor is China so evil that self-immolation is the only method that might be effective in this specific case. Burning yourself to death is a method of protest heavily influenced by religious leaders who want their Theocracy back, and things would probably be better for Tibet if they abandoned this practice. Furthermore, China already eased the restriction of religion practices in Tibet. As long as these people doesn’t meddle with politic. Because realistically speaking, no government would like a separatist movement in their own country. Any sensible Chinese would not like an unstable China. The Chinese current government can collapse anytime but its civilization can not be divided. Especially, to those foreign elites who benefit with an unstable China. Every changes need time and efforts. China will change over time. They have always done so.