Abe, Park hold first bilateral talks since taking office, address ‘comfort women’ dispute

Reuters, Bloomberg

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye agreed Monday to try to resolve as soon as possible the dispute over the “comfort women,” who were forced to work in Japan’s military brothels before and during World War II.

The feud has been a major obstacle to improving ties between two of Washington’s key allies.

Abe announced the agreement after the two leaders held their first formal talks since taking office, as they seek to move beyond a bitter wartime history that has haunted relations.

“Regarding the issue of the comfort women, I believe we should not leave behind difficulties for future generations as we try to build a future-oriented cooperative relationship,” Abe told reporters in Seoul after the talks, which lasted about an hour and 40 minutes.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of the normalization of (Japan-South Korea) ties this year. Keeping that in mind, we’ve agreed to accelerate talks for the earliest possible resolution,” he said.

The meeting was a diplomatic plus for Abe, who had sought two-way talks with Park amid a push by the United States for Japan and South Korea to improve relations in the face of an increasingly assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea.

Tokyo and Seoul have struggled to find common ground over Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of Korea, particularly regarding the comfort women, or ianfu, as the girls and women, many of them Korean, are euphemistically known in Japan.

“I hope today’s summit will heal the bitter history in a broad sense and be a sincere one and an important opportunity to develop the two countries’ relationship,” Park told Abe at the start of the talks, the first formal two-way meeting between the two since Abe took office in late 2012 and Park in early 2013.

According to a transcript released by Park’s office, Abe said he wants to work with her “to build a new future of forward-looking Japan-Korea relations” and that an exchange of honest opinions by the leaders is needed.

Park said in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun last week that resolving the comfort women dispute is central to better ties with Japan. South Korea says Japanese leaders have repeatedly failed to properly atone for Japan’s wartime atrocities.

On Monday, Park told reporters the issue should be resolved soon, in a way acceptable to the victims and other South Koreans.

Japan says the issue of wartime compensation was legally settled by a 1965 diplomatic treaty and that it stands by the Kono statement — a landmark 1993 apology issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. The Abe administration worries that even if it takes fresh steps, South Korea will decline to bring the issue to a close.

Abe also raised the issue of rising tensions in the South China Sea, saying it is a cause for international concern and that Tokyo wants to cooperate with Seoul and Washington to ensure freedom of the seas.

A U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea last week in the most significant U.S. challenge yet to territorial limits claimed by Beijing.

The Park-Abe meeting followed a summit with them and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday, where they agreed to restore what had been an annual forum to work toward greater economic integration and regional cooperation.

“Japan, China and South Korea are neighbors, and because we are neighbors, there are difficult issues among us,” Abe said at a news conference with Park and Li.

South Korean and Japanese business executives who met last week in Tokyo expressed hope that better ties will improve bilateral trade.

Seoul’s ties with Beijing have tightened while the chilly relationship with Japan has been reflected in trade.

Trade with Japan accounted for 22 percent of South Korea’s total in 1991 but had fallen to 8 percent by 2014.

In contrast, South Korea’s trade with China rose to 21 percent of its total last year from just 4 percent in 1992, when they normalized ties.

“The (trilateral) summit opened the sluice gate for cooperation that’s been shuttered for some time now,” said Lee Ji-yong, who tracks Northeast Asian relations at the government-affiliated Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. “Economic interests are the imperative that compel these countries to cooperate. Still, history remains an obstacle along with territorial issues.”

The three countries, which collectively make up about a fifth of the world economy, are struggling to maintain the growth that turned them into economic powerhouses as they face slumping demand for their exports. The urgency of mending ties has also increased as North Korea continues to expand its nuclear arsenal and the range of its ballistic missiles, which can reach Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.

The summit was welcomed in the Chinese media, with Xinhua, China’s official news agency, saying the effort could help put pressure on North Korea to return to the six-nation disarmament talks, which also include the U.S. and Russia.

  • Blue Gum

    Sadly the fault of this dispute lay directly at the feet of Japan’s politicians.
    An apology means nothing when you back-pedal multiple times and even go as far as manipulating history books to claim they were all just whores.

    Japanese politicians need to understand that this piece of history is not something that can be edited to appease the elderly, the world knows what happened so just accept the past so we can pave the way for a better future.

    • T. Wannabe

      I agree with you in that the Japanese old politicians are unnecessarily provocative. Visits to Yasukuni shrine, Nanjing massacre denial, or “comfort women were not forced” rhetorics are simply absurd.
      That being said, parts of the current feud lies also in Korea and China. They’ve formed a new type of nationalism based on anti-Japanese sentiments. Just look at the far-right groups tearing up Japanese national flags or trying to arson the Japanese embassies. Building up “comfort woman statue” is nothing but a negative campaign against Japanese. I understand that they’ve got reasons to do so, but the entire society is somehow euphoric being anti-Japanese.
      I just think that to blame one for all the problems is wrong. It’s an accumulated result. I blame nationalism.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Whereas Japan has never given up it’s Imperial era racial supremacy world-view. Nippon Kaigi, anyone? How many cabinet members joined that now? Is Abe still the secretary of Nippon Kaigi?

      • Hendrix

        Indeed, and Nippon Kaigai has gone from strength to strength, the supermacists in japan have really crawled out of the woodwork in recent times and are now emboldened and ready to get their man Shigeru Ishiba into power.

      • CaptainAsia

        Why do you think that is? Do you think the Korean extreme right are angels? Excuse me, but every action has a reaction. If Korea goes down that path it is also going to increasingly push Japan to the right. It is human nature. What is really needed instead is a complete withdrawal from both sides from this sort of mentality.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Korea isn’t ‘pushing Japan to the right’, Japan is doing that all by themselves! What are you saying, ‘B, b, but they made me do it mommy!’?
        Japan has a major problem; it seems it can never take responsibility for its actions.

      • CaptainAsia

        Only saying that if Koreans go right wing on Japan, Right wingers in Japan will only increase. Korean leader is going about the whole thing in a wrong way. She should sort out the Vietnamese victims first then talk to Japan in a superior tone. Instead she conveniently ignores that truth and focuses in another direction. Is it that she hates Japan because of her father? BTW I am not Japanese, nor am I paid by them. I just dont like hypocrisy.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        You don’t seem to like historical facts and reality much either.

      • CaptainAsia

        Once again: Historical facts are subjective according to ones own interpretation. ….. Come on read what I write properly……

      • CaptainAsia

        Once again: Historical facts are subjective according to ones own interpretation. ….. Come on read what I write properly……

      • Hendrix

        No he doesnt, only if the ” historical facts” suit his narrative… like most people in Japan, they only listen to historical facts if it suits them, if not then denial ensues.

      • Hendrix

        No he doesnt, only if the ” historical facts” suit his narrative… like most people in Japan, they only listen to historical facts if it suits them, if not then denial ensues.

      • Hendrix

        No he doesnt, only if the ” historical facts” suit his narrative… like most people in Japan, they only listen to historical facts if it suits them, if not then denial ensues.

      • wrle

        Nobody is going right on Japan. They are basically doing it to themselves. If their government stopped systematically white washing the war atrocities none of this would have become an issue in the first place. What did you expect? Japans neighboring countries just close their eyes while they get omitted and distorted?

      • Hendrix

        you don’t like hypocrisy? , then maybe you don’t like Japan because its head office for hypocrisy..

      • Hendrix

        you don’t like hypocrisy? , then maybe you don’t like Japan because its head office for hypocrisy..

      • CaptainAsia

        You are right. It is unfortunate that the Koreans need to build up this anti Japan sentiment long after Japan has helped them build their nation following the war. If Koreans think that for them to move forward as a nation depends on tarring present day Japans image, then this is very sad. Japan of course is much more than that and a very very different nation from the imperial times.

    • Chris Carino

      There are texts or anecdotes in history books that was not properly researched and corrected… Like the “Nanjing massacre”… there are more researchers and historians starting to question the authenticity of the claim based on an actual evidence…

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        You mean ‘more and more researchers are accepting ‘grants’ from the Japanese government to nit-pick over the number of victims of brutal Japanese war-crimes’.
        Yeah, that should improve Japan’s international image a load!

      • 99Pcent

        What do you think the Chinese Communist Government is doing with its spreading of “funds” in amongst Academia around the world????? Confucious (communist teachers) anyone????

      • T. Wannabe

        People like you are hindering the dialogue between the two countries, seriously.

      • T. Wannabe

        People like you are hindering the dialogue between the two countries, seriously.

      • Chris Carino

        The “Nanking massacre” wasn’t even investigated after the war… The legal defense team during the Tokyo Tribunals weren’t even allowed to cross-examine the so-called “witnesses”.. The rest of the world would rather ignore the facts, like how the photos used as “evidence” were doctored and staged.

      • Chris Carino

        Try reading “Good Man of Nanking”… John Rabe made no mention of seeing the atrocities first-hand…. All he had was rumors and unverified reports….

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        You mean ‘more and more researchers are accepting ‘grants’ from the Japanese government to nit-pick over the number of victims of brutal Japanese war-crimes’.
        Yeah, that should improve Japan’s international image a load!

    • @dobo

      Japan would do well to follow Germany’s fine example in helping heal the wounds of history and achieve a proper closure. Enough of rewriting history books and trying to twist facts.

  • Hendrix

    Comfort women? doesnt he mean sex slaves?

    • 99Pcent

      all of them under one name? Now that gotta be wrong?

  • Hachiko

    the only reason they are able to talk of the fabricated comfort women is that they won the war. those women joined the army voluntarily. did their army not rape and loot? did the americans not rape and loot? the americans are still doing it even today!

    that’s why japan has to become a strong nation again, a nation that stand up for the japanese people. we are lucky to have a strong leader!

    • Nobu Tarou

      Great idea! let Japan becomes a strong nation again if you like. Unfortunately, however, it is absolutely impossible due to only one reason that is a presence of persons having an indea like you. So long as the persons with such an idea like you guy survive. Japan is and will be devaluated forever, and forced to be under strict control of US for not becoming a strong nation again! Of course, international community as well including Korea and China will never allow Japan to do so.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      No, we gaijin are lucky Japan has a ‘strong leader’ because now the whole world can see that Japan is only pretending to be a modern liberal democracy, when in fact it is a facist police state run by the unapolgetic descendants of those who led the country to ruin in 1945 and were happy for millions of Japanese to die so that they could keep their guilty hands on the levers of power. And people like you have been tricked by ‘national pride’ into not recognizing you are the chumps picking up the tab.

      • 99Pcent

        You should leave Japan.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        What, leave this ‘paradise’?
        LOLZ!
        Japan needs my tax and my children! People like me are Japan’s future!

    • R0ninX3ph

      Are prostitutes in modern times protected so perfectly that they are never raped or forced into acts they do not wish to do? If the answer is no, then why do you assume that even if the women chose to become ‘comfort women’ that in a time when womens rights were even fewer than now, that they could never have been raped or forced?

  • Hachiko

    korea was part of japan then. the recruitment of comfort woman was not even an international affair.

    • http://www.soundcloud.com/fetesaker Sindre

      I believe Korea was colonized and invaded rather than being a part of Japan. They were forced to take on Japanese names, following the war time Japanese thought that the Japanese people were superior to other Asian nations.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      No, Korea was invaded by brutal Jaoanese Empire.

  • Richard Solomon

    It’s encouraging to hear that Abe and Park want to try to resolve the Comfort Women issue. It’s crucial to realize though that ‘the devil will be in the details.’ Will each side be willing to take substantial, concrete steps to reconcile?

    Eg, will Abe be willing to meet with some of these women, offer them reparations in addition to a solemn apology, set up memorials or a museum to commemorate them, stop efforts to revise history textbooks, etc? Can he face down the powerful criticisms he will face from his nationalist supporters?

    Will Park take steps to stop the anti-Japanese rhetoric in her country? Will she accept and endorse these kinds of gestures as ‘genuine?’

    Would each leader be willing to sacrifice their political careers if need be in order to accomplish this much needed reconciliation?

    Or is this all a lot of talk signifying nothing?

  • Richard Solomon

    It’s encouraging to hear that Abe and Park want to try to resolve the Comfort Women issue. It’s crucial to realize though that ‘the devil will be in the details.’ Will each side be willing to take substantial, concrete steps to reconcile?

    Eg, will Abe be willing to meet with some of these women, offer them reparations in addition to a solemn apology, set up memorials or a museum to commemorate them, stop efforts to revise history textbooks, etc? Can he face down the powerful criticisms he will face from his nationalist supporters?

    Will Park take steps to stop the anti-Japanese rhetoric in her country? Will she accept and endorse these kinds of gestures as ‘genuine?’

    Would each leader be willing to sacrifice their political careers if need be in order to accomplish this much needed reconciliation?

    Or is this all a lot of talk signifying nothing?

  • CaptainAsia

    Nothing wrong with dialog, it is the best diplomacy. It does not mean that either party is right or wrong, perhaps a bit of both on each side. As we all know with the passing of time tales grow longer.
    As for the Koreans they have nothing much to shout out about too much. Just look at what they did in Vietnam with all the Vietnamese women they used as sex slaves during the Vietnam war. Now there countless of thousands of offspring because of these rapes, Raitaihan as they are called in Vietnam. These offspring are looked down upon and marginalized in Vietnamese society. They all live in poverty and have no where left to turn. They are definitely not wanted in Korea.
    If what Japan did with comfort women in Korea was so terrible, then what Korea did in Vietnam was a hundred times worse. As we all know, many so called comfort women in Korea voluntarily entered into prostitution to survive economically. It often meant in those days the choice of having food on the table or not. Some of these so called women were also sold off by Koreans themselves as well as some of them genuinely being forced into service.
    It is easy for nationalists to pick one side of a narrative and focus solely on that. In truth conflict itself is a lot murkier and demands cooler and calmer minds to conclude once and for all the hateful outlooks of past histories.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Same old apologist deflection; ‘Japan had sex-slave? B, b, Korea did bad things in Vietnam!’.
      2 wrongs don’t make a right. Whatever Korea has done, Japan still had sex-slaves. Fact.

      • T. Wannabe

        So did American “liberators” in France or South Korea, and French PKO in Haiti lately investigated. Just saying.

      • T. Wannabe

        Apparently the US, France, and the USSR haven’t recognized the fact that mass rape existed in occupied Vichy France and Germany, nor have they compensated for it. Why?

      • T. Wannabe

        Apparently the US, France, and the USSR haven’t recognized the fact that mass rape happened in occupied Vichy France and Germany, nor have they compensated for it. Why?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        ‘B, b, but they did it too!’.
        Seriously, that’s your defense? It didn’t work for me when I was 8, why should it work for Japan now?

      • CaptainAsia

        Its got nothing to do with “they did it too”. Rather it is about hypocrisy, screaming bloody murder when your own hands are covered in blood does not reflect well seeing that the Korean leader has decided to make comfort women issue the most important thing when it comes to its relation with Japan. Now if the Koreans have made such a big thing about it and they themselves were innocent of similar accusations, then by all means it would stand up as an argument, unfortunately this is not the case as with Vietnam. Also you have conveniently missed out on a lot of other points in my comments that add up to the reasoning and you can clearly see that I am not saying “it is ok to do because they did it”.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        If Korean soldiers committed war-crimes against Vietnamese, I hope that Vietnamese and Korean newspapers will cover those crimes. But it has nothing to do with a newspaper article about Japan denying wartime sexual enslavement of Korean (and other) women.
        You’re just an apologist trying to deflect Japan’s guilt out of shame.

      • CaptainAsia

        I am not sure if you get my point or if you are choosing to ignore it. I can understand that. As someone like yourself, most likely Korean it is very likely for you to only see one side of the narrative and disregard any other considerations as a conspiracy and lie. After all, your people are a victims as sorts, but nothing like many other countries Imperial Japan dealt to, we could call it “victim lite”.
        Myself, well, I am not connected in anyway to either side, nor am I taking side, but seeing that this media article is international news and that there is a comment section, I take it upon myself to research and comment accordingly. As an outside commentator, I find it odd that Korea makes such a deal about their narrative Ie: shock, horror, hatred, disgust and unbelief how terrible the Japanese people are. Yet at the same time they do the same action themselves to Vietnam but are able to disregard it.
        You may call me names but the truth of the matter is, it still does not reflect on the true nature of the situation. As an outsider I have freedom to look at both sides of the story in relation to both countries narratives, thus: I think there is a truth in the matter of comfort women as claimed by Korea, but I don’t believe they were all enslaved and as Japan claims many of them were working women and some of them were even sold off. Of course a certain number of them may have been raped and enslaved, just as Koreans did in the Vietnam war. This is a non bias view, a reflection of both historical narratives and I do not think it needs to be hyped to this level as to hurt the relationship with Japan. After all Japan seems to have done a lot for Korea, before and after the war. To have such hatred and animosity towards present day modern democratic Japan is deplorable and so are the hate and smear campaigns against them by Koreans all over the world. As a westerner I have seen this unfold in the form of propaganda aimed at western audiences coupled with aggressive sale tactics for Korean products.
        The very fact that you fail to acknowledge these approaches and considerations either point to the fact that you may be ignorant or you have a preset agenda driven by whatever forces behind it.

        I know whatever I write will not ring true with you, nevertheless, rest assured that whatever you say does not necessarily ring true to the rest of the intelligent informed world.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Well actually I’m an American, but you committed the ultimate give-away of accusing me of being ‘Korean’ just because I don’t agree with you, and that, more than anything else, should prove to everyone that you are a right-wing extremist and apologist, destroying any credibility you were hoping for.
        If I’d said ‘actually, I’m Japanese’, your right-wing brain would have blown a gasket!

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Well actually I’m an American, but you committed the ultimate give-away of accusing me of being ‘Korean’ just because I don’t agree with you, and that, more than anything else, should prove to everyone that you are a right-wing extremist and apologist, destroying any credibility you were hoping for.
        If I’d said ‘actually, I’m Japanese’, your right-wing brain would have blown a gasket!

      • T. Wannabe

        Sorry to interrupt. I’m not a massacre denier and the facts that others did similar things do not make the sins of Japan lighter. As a Japanese I feel ashamed of the brutal crimes my ancestors committed.
        So should you, is what I’m saying. Americans raped women in all the countries their militaries are involved (needless to say Okinawa incident that led to limited jurisdiction of US soldiers), dropped nukes (which is never accused in US), invaded Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq(think of how many civilians were killed) and now sending troops to Syria leading to displacement of 14m citizens. WHEREAS Japan has not been involved in any of these for 70 years. How come you can ignore all these factors and point finger at Japan and say “is that your defense?” I would say Americans are brutal Japan of today. You would now say “so is that your defense?” But no. It’s my personal opinion. I was talking about a more general perspective. I thought your lines would be cleverer than Trump rhetoric.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        So, let me get this straight; you’re saying that saying ‘America did bad stuff too’ is NOT your defense for Japanese war-crimes, but then you go ahead and say ‘But America did bad stuff too!’.
        Hmmm, you’re contradicting yourself.

      • T. Wannabe

        Ok, academic writing 101. What you are saying is called slippery slope or spurious correlation. I said Japan did terrible things and these facts shouldn’t be used as a defense for Japan’s crime. What I concluded is that Americans are also brutal in today’s international society and that you should reflect upon yourself, too.
        There is no correlation between Japanese massacre denial and its defensive character to accuse Americans committing crimes today.

        But one thing was confirmed: Americans tend to deviate discussions and ignore their violent crimes.

      • CaptainAsia

        At least we know what America has done. Just think about what the Chinese have done in Tibet ETC……

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        There’s nothing ‘academic’ about talking about American problems as a way of deflecting from the article, which is about Japanese war-crime denial.
        If you have a problem with the way Americans remember American history, you should comment at New York Times, or something.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        There’s nothing ‘academic’ about talking about American problems as a way of deflecting from the article, which is about Japanese war-crime denial.
        If you have a problem with the way Americans remember American history, you should comment at New York Times, or something.

      • T. Wannabe

        That’s a denial of “logical thinking”. Politics is intertwined. You cannot discuss one issue separately to another. I’m using “crimes committed during war” as a dependent variable here.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yes we can. Enough with the ‘logic’ of denial. Japan committed war-crimes. Fact. Now grow up and stop trying to blame others.

      • T. Wannabe

        I find it impossible to discuss with you. I hope you will get at least a university degree one day so you can understand what I m saying.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        I got a Ph.D in exposing Japanese right wing myths and lies.

      • T. Wannabe

        Yeah I supposed. I guess it’s from Trump University.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Nope, Sterling in Scotland. Has Trump got a university? Maybe he’ll give me a job!!!

      • T. Wannabe

        I read it Starlin. He will, one day. As long as people like you support him, he will send off all the Syrian refugees and Mexicans so you white rascals can get an easy job. Strong Murika.

      • T. Wannabe

        I read it Starlin. He will, one day. As long as people like you support him, he will send off all the Syrian refugees and Mexicans so you white rascals can get an easy job. Strong Murika.

      • CaptainAsia

        Mainland Chinese University?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        I got a Ph.D in exposing Japanese right wing myths and lies.

      • T. Wannabe

        By the way, I stress that I am not supporting this CaptainAsia guy. I’m not denying Japanese atrocities, and you should make it clear.

      • Philosopher

        This is far from academic writing. This is the comment section of a newspaper.

      • T. Wannabe

        Sorry to interrupt. I’m not a massacre denier and the facts that others did similar things do not make the sins of Japan lighter. As a Japanese I feel ashamed of the brutal crimes my ancestors committed.
        So should you, is what I’m saying. Americans raped women in all the countries their militaries are involved (needless to say Okinawa incident that led to limited jurisdiction of US soldiers), dropped nukes (which is never accused in US), invaded Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq(think of how many civilians were killed) and now sending troops to Syria leading to displacement of 14m citizens. WHEREAS Japan has not been involved in any of these for 70 years. How come you can ignore all these factors and point finger at Japan and say “is that your defense?” I would say Americans are brutal Japan of today. You would now say “so is that your defense?” But no. It’s my personal opinion. I was talking about a more general perspective. I thought your lines would be cleverer than Trump rhetoric.

      • CaptainAsia

        I will admit right now that I have no real idea who you are or where you come from.
        Please read properly.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Well actually I’m an American, but you committed the ultimate give-away of accusing me of being ‘Korean’ just because I don’t agree with you, and that, more than anything else, should prove to everyone that you are a right-wing extremist and apologist, destroying any credibility you were hoping for.
        If I’d said ‘actually, I’m Japanese’, your right-wing brain would have blown a gasket!

      • CaptainAsia

        So it is ok for someone who is just recently done something very wrong to accuse another who did something wrong a very long time ago? It is not about 2 wrongs, rather it is about having done something worse in Vietnam more recently but ignoring that wrong while taking up issue over something that is not clearly as wrong or bad as what you did.

  • Philosopher

    Even the term “comfort women” is an insulting euphemism for what was done to those women. They were sex slaves.

    While it’s true some – and only a small minority – of the women had been prostitutes beforehand, they were all taken under false pretences or plain kidnapped. Thousands and thousands of them were then raped repeated and kept locked away so they wouldn’t run away. Most women caught in such circumstances would try to survive anyway they could, including escape attempts. Just because some of the evidence for the abductions and enslavement was found to be unreliable, doesn’t negate the vast majority of the testimony. Testimony which rips at your heart and soul. What happened to these women, in the name of the Japanese Imperial Forces, was staggeringly cruel and inhumane. Boka Haram did something comparable recently and the world was outraged. How can people today pretend that what was done decades ago to the sex slaves of the imperial army is any less horrific?

    Upon being caught and faced with a wall of incriminating evidence most criminals will still protest their innocence. Sadly, many of the current crop of politicians identify strongly with the Japanese Imperial Forces and seek to minimise the damage they see a having been done to its name. It is also probably worth considering their behavior in light of Japan’s poor record on gender equality – sitting in 106th place of the WEF 201 gender equality rankings it should be no surprise that a bunch of old Japanese men are denying the testimony of a group of women. Surely, it would be better for all to cut ties with the past, denounce what was done and become new men.

    • CaptainAsia

      You could easily be describing what the Koreans did to countless thousands of Vietnamese women during the Vietnamese war.

      • Philosopher

        If you think it’s so wrong then why aren’t you demanding justice for the former sex slaves?

      • CaptainAsia

        I am not demanding justice for anyone. I don’t know what you mean about “the former sex slaves”, which ones are you talking about, the Korean ones, the Vietnamese ones…..?
        Actually I think there are more important things in our world then divisionist activities and Philosopher is not helping.

        This is time for proper dialog, not mucking around.

      • Philosopher

        I mean all the former sex slaves. You’re the one dividing them into nationality groups.
        You’re welcome!

      • R0ninX3ph

        You’re right, sex slaves are wrong whoever does it. So, moving on, shouldn’t Japan stop referring to them as ‘comfort women’?

      • CaptainAsia

        Playing with words, look at the bigger picture please!

      • R0ninX3ph

        It is such a simple piece of the puzzle though, it is a logical fallacy to say that if they deal with this that they can’t deal with other issues too.

        The world isn’t that black and white.

      • CaptainAsia

        Yet you choose a shade?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Nice way of interpreting what I say into that, love the diversionary tactics of the right wing.

        My point is, that we can deal with multiple issues in the world at the same time, it isn’t a matter of “comfort women/sex slaves” are such a small thing and we have bigger things to deal with so theres no point dealing with it.

        Why not just deal with it and move on? If its so much smaller than all of the “bigger” problems, it should be easy to deal with and move on from, right?

      • Hendrix

        well are they sex slaves or are they comfort women ? come on we are waiting for an answer..

      • wrle

        Koreans did not lie about it or try to omit it from history and they weren’t going about setting up military brothels in Vietnam either. If you think its wrong then why wont the Japanese do the same and face up to the comfort women issue?

      • CaptainAsia

        why are there so many 1/2 Vietnamese Koreans that are not accepted in Korea????

      • R0ninX3ph

        Even if there is, its diversionary to say the complaints about Japan are invalid because similar or worse things happened because of Korea. YES, it is hypocritical, but that doesn’t mean the arguments against Japan go away just because Korea is being hypocritical.

      • wrle

        Diverting the topic does not make an issue go away. Please stay on the subject. If the Japanese government was not white washing their war atrocities from history it would not even be an issue in the first place. What is so difficult about accepting mistakes from the past and moving on? You keep on bringing up korea and the vietnam war which is actually a good example of admitting to the past and building a genuine relationship.

      • Hendrix

        yep lets deflect the blame , that should do it.

    • T. Wannabe

      As far as I recall, the term comfort women were used firstly by Koreans. Confucius philosophy, I suppose you know it, makes it a taboo to openly talk about sexual issues and there is a socio-cultural background to it. But I agree, some of them or most of them were basically under the condition similar t those of slaves.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Does it matter who used the term first? It doesn’t make it okay to call someone something, just because someone else used it first.

        Masking sexual slavery behind an ambiguous term like “comfort women” is just the first step in trying to avoid dealing with the fact they were sex slaves.

      • T. Wannabe

        Of course such euphemism blurs the cruelty of the crime. However, victims back then preferred to be called this way, because of social discrimination they expected. Until recently, it was a shame for these women to even come out and say they were trapped into working in a brothel. Some of them still prefer the term comfort woman. This historical fact is quite important in distinguishing humanitarian supports for victims and pressuring Japanese government. Same thing is going on in Bosnia. Governments, on the other hand, prefers the term sex slaves so it could use them as a diplomatic card.
        Also you cannot classify them all as sex slaves because there were voluntary Japanese prostitutes, as well as Koreans, who were in “comfort woman” category but were not victims. They considered themselves just like workers on red light districts. But again, stressing the existence of voluntary prostitutes should not hinder the responsibility of the country over this issue.
        But still, it is important to understand the facts and not to label them all as sex slaves, from the standpoint of even humanitarian supports. Some of them, or even majority,must have been under the condition similar to those of slaves, without doubts.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Whether some women at the time CHOSE to be military prostitutes, do you really think they were free to leave whenever they wanted?

        A vast amount of prostitutes NOW don’t have freedom to leave their “employers”, so why do you act like the women who “chose” 80 years ago would have been able to just leave? Ergo, even if they were professional prostitutes, if they don’t have mobility, they are still slaves.

        But, even if you don’t agree with that, we can surely agree that we can refer to those women who were forced, as sexual slaves, and masking the ones who were forced behind the nebulous term of “comfort women”. Even if ~only~ 10% were forced (which I don’t think we will ever properly ascertain now 80 years after the fact) then we should still refer to those who were forced, as sex slaves.

      • Philosopher

        The numbers I’ve found actually point the other way. 90% were forced and 10% were former prostitutes. Neither groups were free to leave once in the brothel system. Both groups were said to be working in “comfort stations” by the Japanese Imperial Forces. Not that there was any comfort there for the women. Daily beatings and rapes. I doubt that comfort was what the soldiers felt on visiting, either. Participating in such cruelty must have been galling.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Which is exactly my point, even if the women chose to enter the system, they couldn’t willingly leave whenever they wanted, thus they too become slaves at some point.

      • Philosopher

        I am not disagreeing with you, R0ninXph. They were all sex slaves.

        I actually hit the reply button under T. Watanabe’s post. Don’t know why the system linked my comment to yours.

    • wrle

      the definition of comfort women only refer to those who were forced into sexual slavery, it does not include willing prostitutes. Historians estimate there were as many as 200 000 mostly from east Asia.

      • Philosopher

        Is that so? It doesn’t seem that way in all the references I’ve found on the issue. We must have very different sources.

    • Tabula Rasa

      I’ve been wondering about this myself. Whenever the western media reports on rape as a war crime, it’s called a “war crime” except when using the term “comfort women” for Japan. Why?

      • Philosopher

        Rape is always a crime. I can’t answer for the entire Western media, sorry.

  • CaptainAsia

    Hey All of you commentators, I am not fighting for Japan. I just read about the history between the two countries and have come to certain conclusions. I of course may be wrong, but when I research the facts start to stack up, sorry if I upset anyone.
    That is why I say dialog is good!
    Now in the meantime we should really look at China and the Philippines, Tibet, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei ……….

  • 99Pcent

    I have just been around Japan and Korea. Next week I am off to Australia. Actually we are all really worried about peace between Korea and Japan. Actually those two people have more in common than any of us would understand. If Japan and Korea got together, they would be an unstopable force.

    • wrle

      That is what japan tried to do to Korea by force prior to WW2. Didn’t turn out too well did it?

  • 99Pcent

    Both Japan and Korea should talk with each other. That is the best.

  • 99Pcent

    Both Japan and Korea should talk with each other. That is the best.