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Japan, South Korea officials discuss ‘comfort women’ issue in Seoul

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

South Korean and Japanese officials met Wednesday for their first round of talks since an agreement by the nations’ leaders to seek a prompt resolution of a dispute over women and girls forced into wartime sexual slavery.

The talks were aimed at moving forward an agreement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Park Geun-hye last week on trying to resolve the long-stalled row over women — many of them from the Korean Peninsula — who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

After Abe held talks with Park in Seoul on Nov. 2, their first one-on-one meeting, Abe told reporters: “With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties, we agreed to accelerate negotiations with the aim of concluding them as early as possible.”

Abe made no specific commitment during his summit talks with Park, but later stressed that both sides had an obligation to leave no “obstacles for future generations.”

Japan was represented by Kimihiro Ishikane, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and South Korea by Lee Sang-deok, director general of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau.

After the meeting, Ishikane told reporters that he tried to seek common ground with his counterpart because the issue has been an obstacle in the development of bilateral ties.

Asked when the next meeting will be held, Ishikane replied: “We will coordinate it as soon as possible.”

South Korea has demanded that Japan settle the issue in a way acceptable to the women still alive, such as through an apology and compensation. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

Japan maintains all matters of compensation were settled under the 1965 bilateral treaty that normalized diplomatic ties.

Tokyo wants Seoul not to keep raising the issue in the future once an agreement is reached. It also wants South Korea to remove the statue of a girl in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul that has become a symbol of the comfort women issue.

The director general-level talks to discuss the comfort women issue began in spring 2014, but they have been stalled since July due to a dispute involving the UNESCO World Heritage listing of historical industrial sites in Japan.

South Korea initially opposed the listings, but the sites were eventually added to the list after Seoul withdrew the opposition on condition Japan publicly acknowledge that Koreans had been coerced to work at some of the sites during World War II.

  • Liars N. Fools

    The reason the Director General level talks have stalled is because the Abe administration has modified the Kono Statement out of existence, saying there is no “corroborated evidence” and that it was just a “diplomatic agreement” with no basis in fact. Meanwhile Japan has mounted a “everybody had comfort women” or “Korean girls were prostitutes” campaign.

    • Chris Carino

      The brothel owners followed where the Army goes, and the Army had plenty of disposable cash… It made no difference from the South Korean government-sanctioned prostitution in the 50’s to 80’s…

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Revisionist lies just make Japan look even worse. Please stop.

      • Chris Carino

        Just like the South Koreans trying to whitewash history… Park’s father was a brutal dictator and yet she tried to paint him a rosy picture…..

      • wrle

        So if you think whitewashing history is wrong then why don’t you demand justice for the sex slaves? There was never a problem until Abe turned it into a comfort women were all prostitutes campaign.

      • Chris Carino

        It was prostitution. It has been documented that Koreans ran prostitution ring inside the Japanese-held territories. Ringleaders and pimps went from remote villages and promised poor families of young women money and jobs.. They were lured under false pretense only to be sold as prostitutes. Majority of brothel owners were of Korean descent… The Japanese military were no different from customers with money…. There was a diary owned by a grand-uncle found in Inchon detailing how they handle women from different parts of the Korean peninsula… He called himself an “enterpreneur”… If you google an old article from Chosun Ilbo between Jan. 2015 – May 2015

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        There’s a book by former Japan PM Yoshida in which he describes ordering the procurement of sex-slaves from the local general populace on the written orders of his superiors.
        Do you think that the former Japanese PM is a liar?

      • Chris Carino

        It was still prostitution. The Japanese sanctioned a few establishments, and yet the majority of the those who engaged in human trafficking were Koreans. How they acquire women in their stables was up to the pimps and handlers… You can’t ignore the fact that these are well-documented…

      • wrle

        So if you think whitewashing history is wrong then why don’t you demand justice for the sex slaves? There was never a problem until Abe turned it into a comfort women were all prostitutes campaign.

      • 99Pcent

        And dont forget what the Koreans did in Vietnam, thousands raped and left to bear children that suffer from discrimination to this day. The Koreans are all shock and horror in blaming Japan, but cant even accept their own wrongdoings which are a hundred times worse.

      • wrle

        That doesn’t make the comfort woman issue go away. If you think its so horrible then why dont you criticize japan also for what they did? In regards to what happened in vietnam, koreans weren’t exactly going around rounding up women and setting up military run sex slave brothels. The main difference is koreans have already acknowledged and apologized for what happened in vietnam. They now share very good relations. Maybe japan can learn and do the same.

      • wrle

        That doesn’t make the comfort woman issue go away. If you think its so horrible then why dont you criticize japan also for what they did? In regards to what happened in vietnam, koreans weren’t exactly going around rounding up women and setting up military run sex slave brothels. The main difference is koreans have already acknowledged and apologized for what happened in vietnam. They now share very good relations. Maybe japan can learn and do the same.

      • 99Pcent

        Many so called comfort women entered into the trade for money, they needed food. Not all of them were rounded up. Some may have been, but how come this is not talked about?

      • 99Pcent

        Many so called comfort women entered into the trade for money, they needed food. Not all of them were rounded up. Some may have been, but how come this is not talked about?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Prostitutes in modern times are often not free to just leave their profession, even if they originally “chose” to enter it, why do you think 70 or 80 years ago it would have been better? Given how far we have come with womens rights in those years (given it still isn’t anywhere near where it should be) in the 1930’s and 40’s, how many women would have been “free” to leave their pimps?

      • Chris Carino

        Do you think women tofay who are victims of human trafficking are “free” to leave their pimps….?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        So, does that make Japan’s wartime sex-slaves ok then?

      • Chris Carino

        What makes you think ROKAF’s behavior during the Vietnam War were no different from what the Japanese did during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War…?

        Kinda hypocritical, isn’t it…?

      • R0ninX3ph

        It is only hypocritical is people make the statement that what Japan did was wrong, and what Korea did isn’t.

        Nobody is making that statement here, stop trying to avoid the true discussion.

      • Chris Carino

        South Korea has no moral ground to stand on if they keep ignoring the fact they committed the same atrocities as the Japanese, that’s why I brought up ROKAF’s “misadventures” in Vietnam…. The only difference was they were “fighting with the good guys against the bad commies”

      • R0ninX3ph

        No I don’t, now what does that have to do with my comment?

        Or is it the usual “distract with other issues” diversionary tactics again? Human trafficking, sex slaves, comfort women, no matter what you call it, I am against it.

      • Chris Carino

        Obviously that is the case here… She has been ignoring the domestic policies while focusing most of her effort on her personal agendas…

      • R0ninX3ph

        You’re now completely ignoring the fact you ignored my comment.

        My comment was in regards to freedom of women as prostitutes, if the women are not free, they are sex slaves.

        You then retort with a random comment about how victims of human trafficking aren’t free…. (Which I agree with, as was assumed with my original comment) and now you start ranting about Parks domestic policies?

        Please, pay attention to what you are replying to, and stop with the diversionary tactics.

      • Chris Carino

        What makes you think all comfort women are “sex slaves..?”

      • R0ninX3ph

        Whether they were professional prostitutes or coerced, the simple fact they could not leave their employers by choice, means they were not free, and thus are slaves.

        Is this sinking in yet?

      • Chris Carino

        I replied on the wrong poster…

      • Chris Carino

        Even witnesses say a lot of them were willing participants… They followed where the Japanese Army went…. They knew the Japanese never scimp payment….

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Links for these ‘eye-witness’ claims?

      • Chris Carino

        see “Japan at War: by Haruko Taya Cook…

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Proof?

      • 99Pcent

        My proof is not your Korean so called victims whose stories seem to grow taller by the day.

      • Forest2014

        will you kindly tell us when exactly koreans( govt?) apologized for what happened in Vietnam? Dont bring up Kim Tae-Jung who essentailly took back his apology remarks, when attacked by Park Guen Hye. Was the apology as often as , as much as , as clear as Japan did already?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Even if Koreans have perpetrated sex-crimes against other nations, what has that got to do with Japan’s huge institutional system of sex-slavery that even former PM’s have admitted helping to administer? Are you trying to say ”B, b, but Korea did sex crimes too, so it’s OK that Japan did”? Coz that is bad logic.

      • Editor_in_Charge

        I would not say “even if” as if there was some doubt about what KOrea did….LOL and LOL

      • Editor_in_Charge

        I would not say “even if” as if there was some doubt about what KOrea did….LOL and LOL

      • Chris Carino

        Actually, the Koreans ran a prostitution and human trafficking ring during wartime… And of course, they’ll sweep this under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen, because they love using the “victim card”….

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Proof?
        thought not.

      • Chris Carino

        Trying to ignore the fact…? obvisously…

      • Chris Carino

        google an article from Chosun Ilbo between Jan 2015- May 2015…

      • Chris Carino

        google an article from Chosun Ilbo between Jan 2015- May 2015…

      • 99Pcent

        And dont forget what the Koreans did in Vietnam, thousands raped and left to bear children that suffer from discrimination to this day. The Koreans are all shock and horror in blaming Japan, but cant even accept their own wrongdoings which are a hundred times worse.

      • Chris Carino

        research more…..

      • wrle

        Comfort women are sex slaves. They only refer to the women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the japanese military, not willing prostitutes. Historians estimate there were as many as 200 000 women from mostly across east asia.

      • Chris Carino

        How come the Chinese government isn’t making a big issue about “comfort women”…..? I’m sure there were thousands of Chinese women suffered from human trafficking and prostitution during the Japanese sweep through the mainland….

  • Forest2014

    Teitaikyo and overseas ethnic Koreans are the problems than Korean Govt.
    There is nothng Japan should really do any longer. Just leave it alone

  • Jackson Clark

    Why does a newspaper put comfort women in quotes? Poor journalism at best, extreme bias i am sure

  • Jackson Clark

    Why does a newspaper put comfort women in quotes? Poor journalism at best, extreme bias i am sure

  • Chris Carino

    Park made it an issue and the main platform of her administration..

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Abe made it an issue and the main platform of his administration.
      There, fixed that for you.

      • Chris Carino

        Park’s predecessors didn’t made it an issue… She made the “comfort women” as issue to deflect the criticism lobbed against her….

      • R0ninX3ph

        Comfort women has been an “issue” between Japan and Korea well before Park brought it up during her campaign/administration.

        Just because other South Korean leaders have ignored it, doesn’t mean the issue wasn’t still there bubbling under the surface.

      • Chris Carino

        She made it her “personal crusade”, while ignoring the domestic problem plaguing her administration….

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        ”Abe made it his “personal crusade”, while ignoring the domestic problem plaguing his administration….”

        There, fixed that for you AGAIN! This is getting to be a habit with you!

      • R0ninX3ph

        Surely, domestic problems plaguing her administration are by definition… domestic, so do not really need to be discussed on an article discussing international relations?

        I don’t care about what Abe is doing in Japan when discussing the comfort women issue, I also don’t care about what Park says or does in South Korea when discussing the comfort women issue, and the comfort women issue is a cross-border issue and unrelated to their domestic problems.

      • Chris Carino

        What is the issue then? Most, if not all, victims of the Japanese abuses during WW2 recieved their reparations from the Post-War government.

      • R0ninX3ph

        How about Japanese politicians continually coming out in speeches or off the cuff remarks with essentially denials of the atrocities themselves?

        Reparations aside, historical revisionism is one of the main issues with the whole debacle.

      • Chris Carino

        Do you think the “accepted” written history is as accurate as it was supposed to be…?

      • R0ninX3ph

        I think “accepted” history is accepted when it is reviewed by as many impartial and unbiased historians as possible. I do not accept history just because one country says something is the way they claim.

      • Chris Carino

        Impartial…? Really…? History were written by the victors.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I agree that history written by the victors is terrible, which is why the entire situation should be investigated by those who are impartial and not connected to either side.

        Or are you saying that in the entire world, there is nobody that isn’t related to either the Japanese side or the Korean side that can investigate and research this?

      • R0ninX3ph

        How about Japanese politicians continually coming out in speeches or off the cuff remarks with essentially denials of the atrocities themselves?

        Reparations aside, historical revisionism is one of the main issues with the whole debacle.

      • Chris Carino

        Do you think her personal crusade is productive…?

      • Chris Carino

        Do you think her personal crusade is productive…?

      • Chris Carino

        Do you think her crusade is going to be productive in regards to the Korean-Japanese diplomatic relationship…?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Since you keep rewriting this question and ignoring what I said in the first place, I will finally answer it in the hopes I don’t need to keep reading the same thing.

        “No, it probably won’t be productive but I never said I agreed with her methods”. Happy? :-)

      • Chris Carino

        What’s good going to come out of it then…?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Just because I don’t think her actions are productive, doesn’t mean that in the end, something good cannot come from this.

        What if… just maybe… they decided to co-fund an impartial team of outsiders to investigate all the claims, people unrelated to either side to ascertain the truth? (I mean, I know this would never happen because both Japan and Korea both hate outsiders interfering with their affairs, but I can dream)

  • 99Pcent

    Nothing wrong with dialog, rather the more dialog we have the better because it brings about reconciliation. However it does not mean that the Koreans are right or have the moral upper ground, they should not mistake Japan willingness to communicate as admission.

  • 99Pcent

    Nothing wrong with dialog, rather the more dialog we have the better because it brings about reconciliation. However it does not mean that the Koreans are right or have the moral upper ground, they should not mistake Japan willingness to communicate as admission.

  • Richard Solomon

    If Abe wants to resolve this issue with Park, he’s going to have to take some concrete steps to make amends. These include things like meet with and apologize directly to surviving Comfort Women, offer them reparations out of the Japanese government coffers, and build memorials/statues in public places to honor them. Ie, official, government sanctioned acts of contrition will have to be made. Will Abe’s pride as a Japanese and the grandson of a former member of the military government allow him to do these kinds of things?

    • 99Pcent

      Why should Abe directly apologize, he is not responsible for imperial Japan. BTW Koreans are just as guilty as many of these so called women entered willingly or were sold of by family members. Of course there may have been a percentage of women who were genuinely forced into it, but that is not Abe fault. Plus the Japanese have apologized and compensated in many ways, not just financial. Meanwhile all this fervor that Park has whipped up only makes us focus on Korea’s own conduct in the Vietnam war and the thousands they raped and left pregnant.

      • wrle

        Comfort women are sex slaves. They only refer to the women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the japanese military, not willing prostitutes. Historians estimate there were as many as 200 000 women from mostly across east asia.

      • 99Pcent

        Many of them were willing and so the the records show. There are stories where families relied on females for income to put food on the table. Not all of them were forced and this is the main problem. Park should not have made it such an issue and rather diplomatically dealt with it and weeded out the truth from the liars.

      • 99Pcent

        Many of them were willing and so the the records show. There are stories where families relied on females for income to put food on the table. Not all of them were forced and this is the main problem. Park should not have made it such an issue and rather diplomatically dealt with it and weeded out the truth from the liars.

      • wrle

        Comfort women means sex slaves. We are not talking about records for the number of willing prostitutes who needed income, We are talking about the comfort women who were women forced into sex slavery by the Japanese military, so learn to differentiate.

        This was actually never a problem until recently when PM Abe turned the comfort women issue into a willing prostitute campaign. Park is concerned obviously because many of them were korean but Abe is also receiving criticizm from politicians in other countries including the US, china and Taiwan on this issue. Read the news more.

      • 99Pcent

        I wouldn’t say read the new more, rather I would recommend you to diverse your reading. Japan has compensated by setting up the Asia fund and in the form of $800 million in development aid for Korea aimed at compensation for the genuine victims. But Korea insatiable demand for more and more had to be stemmed, thus the Japanese reaction. Meanwhile Korea goes around trumpeting its woes but lacks in acknowledging its own shortcoming for its actions in the Vietnam war. For a country to make so much noise again and again would make you believe that they would never ever commit such a deed themselves, however if you diversify you readings you will be shocked.
        Have you heard of the term “Lai Daihan”??? Maybe you should study more and look at your own countries crimes instead of crying victim all along.
        I think Vietnam should start build Lai daihan statues all over the place as Korea has yet to compensate 10 thousand or so victims of sexual assault and rape resulting in a generation of Children in the thousands which have been abandoned, abused and marginalized. Yes we are talking about sex slavery and what the Japanese imperial army may have done and not a blanket statement at that because of many Korean women entering into the service willingly to put food on their table. On the other hand this was not the case in Vietnam. If you are truly fighting for a cause, then at least you should acknowledge what Japan has done so far in terms of Aid and apologies by former leaders.
        What has Korea done to address their crimes? After all the victims of rape in Vietnam far outnumber the Korean so called comfort women and the violent methods practiced against these women make the Japanese actions look mild.
        You really should diversify and stop being bias.

      • Chris Carino

        At least someone understood the truth behind the “comfort women” issue….

      • 99Pcent

        Many of them were willing and so the the records show. There are stories where families relied on females for income to put food on the table. Not all of them were forced and this is the main problem. Park should not have made it such an issue and rather diplomatically dealt with it and weeded out the truth from the liars.

      • wrle

        Comfort women are sex slaves. They only refer to the women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the japanese military, not willing prostitutes. Historians estimate there were as many as 200 000 women from mostly across east asia.

    • 99Pcent

      Why should Abe directly apologize, he is not responsible for imperial Japan. BTW Koreans are just as guilty as many of these so called women entered willingly or were sold of by family members. Of course there may have been a percentage of women who were genuinely forced into it, but that is not Abe fault. Plus the Japanese have apologized and compensated in many ways, not just financial. Meanwhile all this fervor that Park has whipped up only makes us focus on Korea’s own conduct in the Vietnam war and the thousands they raped and left pregnant.

    • 99Pcent

      Why should Abe directly apologize, he is not responsible for imperial Japan. BTW Koreans are just as guilty as many of these so called women entered willingly or were sold of by family members. Of course there may have been a percentage of women who were genuinely forced into it, but that is not Abe fault. Plus the Japanese have apologized and compensated in many ways, not just financial. Meanwhile all this fervor that Park has whipped up only makes us focus on Korea’s own conduct in the Vietnam war and the thousands they raped and left pregnant.

  • Richard Solomon

    If Abe wants to resolve this issue with Park, he’s going to have to take some concrete steps to make amends. These include things like meet with and apologize directly to surviving Comfort Women, offer them reparations out of the Japanese government coffers, and build memorials/statues in public places to honor them. Ie, official, government sanctioned acts of contrition will have to be made. Will Abe’s pride as a Japanese and the grandson of a former member of the military government allow him to do these kinds of things?

  • 99Pcent

    At least Japan acknowledged the issue of some comfort women being forced into a form a sexual slavery and have made moves to compensate and apologize. However, in some weird sort of lacking of thinking the Korean leader Park has decided to reignite the whole saga by making the whole issue a priority of her leadership. She has to have a chip on her shoulder, is it her father? Whatever, as an outsider I do not judge the present day modern Japanese people to be responsible for what their ancestors did and after all they have apologized and compensated for crimes committed all over Asia and not just Korea.
    On the other hand what has Park done to compensate the victims of Korean aggression and rape in the Vietnam war??? Nothing, that is the answer. Around 400 thousand Korean soldiers went to Vietnam and the majority of them committed crimes. This is well documented and not fantasy.
    Now I come to a conclusion: This must be hypocrisy in the most extreme, to ignore the action of your own people and sweep it under the carpet but at the same time to cry cry cry about what happened decades before even after apologies and compensation.
    I just think that Korea’s leader wants to pull Japan down by using imperial Japans crimes as an excuse to forward the Korean economy. What a loser!

  • CaptainAsia

    Wow! this are a lot of great comments going on here. There is a great discussion going on showing that there are multiple views from many parties. This is called dialog and this is why they Japanese and the Korean diplomats are engaged in discussion at the moment.
    If each party realized a bit of truth in respective arguments it would be really good. There are some comments that cut through the middle and those are the good ones. On the other hand, to vehemently stick to ones own side only is a bit of failure.

  • Editor_in_Charge

    I want peace between all of us. Japan, USA, Korea etc….. But what Park is doing is really really wrong. LOL. I think we no longer have to be in Korea anymore as Park is kissing up to China so much. Now our mission is over, we should withdraw and let Park deal with KIM JOng you know who. Park has blocked us from deploying Thad, than means if China decides to ICBM USA we will not have a chance to shoot those missiles down. Korea has betrayed us and they just want to appease China. Instead Park is wasting huge amounts of money on staining Japan and Abe which she seems to have adopted as a personal enemy of sorts. Park’s interests do not reflect the greater interests of the Korean democratic nation at all. I really feel that Japan is trying their best under the circumstances, IE: China and Korea together at military Parade in Beijing, how terrible is that, what message does that send?
    I know Japan has already apologized many times and given so much money to Korea, why they act like this??? LOL Are Korean under a media propaganda in their country? LOL

    • Forest2014

      Quote:China and Korea together at military Parade in Beijing, how terrible is that, what message does that send?
      Yeah Really. S.Korea fought against China twice in wars. Did they reconcile already? any aplogy made between them? How come UN’s Scretary -General Ban Ki-moon also there anyway lol?

      Very confusing picture isn’t it.

  • Forest2014

    South Korea’s official documents have showed that under the treaty the Park Chung-hee administration actually agreed never to make further compensation demands against Japan, either at a government or individual level, after receiving US$800 million in grants and soft loans from Tokyo as compensation for its 1910-45 colonial rule.
    silly excuse.
    Read not only 1965 treaty but also appendix.
    Now its all your turn. 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Right? don’t you ever try to make
    silly excuse.