Japan may offer ¥100 100 million fund, apology to permanently settle sex slave dispute with Seoul

JIJI, Kyodo

The government is considering establishing a ¥100 million aid fund for former “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels before and during the war, sources said.

The government plans to propose the new fund at a meeting of the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers in Seoul on Monday, with the aim of reaching a “final settlement” on the divisive issue, the sources said Friday.

The new fund is seen expanding the existing aid program for the mostly Asian women, which was launched after the dissolution of the semi-governmental Asian Women’s Fund, which was based on private-sector contributions.

The Japanese side also plans to deliver handwritten letters of apology by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to any of the surviving women.

Meanwhile, Japan will demand that the South Korean side remove a statue of a girl symbolizing the comfort women, known as ianfu in Japanese, from a road in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and confirm it will never bring up the issue again.

“We can’t conclude the talks without an agreement that this is the end,” a Japanese government official said.

South Korean government sources said Saturday that Seoul would consider relocating the statue if Tokyo offers acceptable conditions for settling the long-standing row.

Seoul is also planning to accept Tokyo’s request that South Korean President Park Geun-hye refrain from criticizing Japan over the issue, which involved girls and women from the Korean Peninsula who were swayed, coerced or otherwise rounded up to provide sex to soldiers in Japanese military brothels, when she holds talks with the leaders of other countries, the sources said.

Japan’s control of the Korean Peninsula started in 1910 and ended in 1945, when it surrendered to the Allied Powers.

Estimates vary, but historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi has calculated Japan controlled at least 50,000 comfort women; other estimates go as high as 200,000.

The bronze statue was erected by a Korean civic group in December 2011, on the occasion of its 1,000th day of protest in front of the embassy. The protests have been held every Wednesday since 1992.

It remains uncertain whether the South Korean government can convince the civic group to move the statue. The body has been demanding that the Japanese government offer an apology and compensation to the Korean victims.

To guarantee a final settlement to the issue, the government is considering having Abe and Park confirm it in the presence of a third country at a meeting to be held possibly on the sidelines of a multilateral gathering, sources said.

Abe and Park agreed at a summit on Nov. 2 to work to conclude talks on the issue soon, with Park calling for a solution that will be accepted by victims and supported by the Korean public.

Some supporters and surviving former comfort women in South Korea are demanding Japan take legal responsibility, while the Japanese government insists all legal compensation issues between the two countries were resolved by a clear bilateral treaty in 1965.

The ministers’ meeting Monday comes amid easing bilateral tensions, following recent developments including the acquittal of a Japanese journalist indicted for allegedly defaming Park.

  • LeslieCz

    A one million dollar fund? There are cars that cost that much.

    • Tando

      I agree, 100 mio yen is less then 1 mio USD and is equivalent to the average income of a Japanese lawmaker within about 5 years. The ones making this ridiculous proposal probably “earn” it in one year.

      • Bernadette Soubirous

        You should be writing about the South Korean politicians…

        According to the 2014 Corruptions Perceptions Index, which annually ranks countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys,” South Korea was ranked 43rd.

        More recently, in 2015, Lee Wan-koo, former prime minister of South Korea, resigned after being embroiled in a corruption scandal, which has also damaged the reputation of the president, Park Geun-hye. Lee Wan-koo had become prime minister in February 2015. But two months into his job, Sung Wan-jong, a construction tycoon, committed suicide, leaving a note accusing those who had received money from him. The former prime minister was on this list. Lee Wan-koo initially denied the accusation and showed no intention of vacating his position. However, he ultimately offered his resignation.[2]

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Prostitution in South Korea is illegal,[1] but according to The Korea Women’s Development Institute, the sex trade in Korea was estimated to amount to 14 trillion South Korean won ($13 billion) in 2007, roughly 1.6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.[2][3] According to the Korean Institute of Criminology, 20 percent of adult males aged between 20-64 purchase sex at an average of 693,000 won ($580) per month.[4] According to a study conducted by the Medical College of Korea University, 23.1% of males and 2.6% of females have their first sexual experience with a prostitute.[5]

      • 132bpm

        What does this have to do with the Japanese government offering a paltry $900,000 to the women that were forced into prostitution?

      • Tando

        The same aplies to Japan. You seem to be blinded by your nationalism but as the famous saying goes “patriotism is the last refuge of the
        scoundrel”.

  • Stephen Kent

    I think that to have any chance of putting the “comfort women” issue to bed once and for all, there has to be more than just a financial settlement. If the meeting of the foreign ministers fails to produce some kind of joint statement on the issue as well as an agreement regarding how the issue will be officially recognised and taught in both countries, then I can’t help but feel that it will crop up again in the future when it becomes politically convenient for someone in South Korea. Since the current administration in Japan hasn’t really attempted to hide the fact that they don’t believe the wartime government was involved in sexual slavery, I doubt Mr. Kishida has been given permission to inform the South Korean foreigner minister that the government of Japan has had a change of heart and now admits the wartime goverment was involved after all, so I’m fairly skeptical that this meeting will achieve anything other than a medium-term shelving of the issue.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Steve,

      A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.

    • Steve Jackman

      A financial settlement in itself may not be everything, but the amount offered does indicate how repentant an aggressor feels about its actions. A hundred million Yen converts to a paltry 831,638 US Dollars – an amount that is not even enough to buy a decent house in many cities in the world. This type of duplicity and slyness is exactly why many asian countries do not trust the Japanese.

      By offering such a ridiculously small amount for sexual slavery, Japan can use this underhanded tactic to achieve its dual objective of showing contempt and devaluing the worth of the Korean women it victimized, while at the same time characterizing the South Koreans as money-grubbing if they protest the small amount being offered by Japan. Classic, Japan!

      I can never figure out if those in Japan who come up with such disingenuous schemes are delusional about how smart they are, or if they think the rest of the world is really stupid as not to be able to understand their demagougery. Either way, acting is such bad faith is not going to win Japan any friends.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Well, it’s a start, but what’s really needed to put this issue to rest is for Japan to stop the self-righteous circus of euphemisms and nit-picking over details; yes there were sex-slaves and yes, we’re sorry, is what’s needed, but I fear that this fund will just be an attempt to ‘pay off’ criticism whilst many sectors of J-society and J-politicians continue to stir the pot with outrageous comments. ‘But hey, we paid the money to those protitutes trying to make Japan look bad, so lay off us!’ is what they’ll say.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      Greed is a sin…Don’t give anymore money to the Koreans. Enough is enough.

      In negotiations, the South Korean government initially demanded $364 million in compensation for Koreans forced by into labor and military service during the Japanese occupation; $200 per survivor, $1,650 per death and $2,000 per injured person.[92] In the final agreement Tokyo provided an $800 million aid and low-interest loan package over 10 years.[93] In 1994, the Japanese government set up the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) to distribute additional compensation to South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Indonesia.[94] Sixty one Korean, 13 Taiwanese, 211 Filipino, and 79 Dutch former comfort women were provided with a signed apology from the then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, stating “As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”[

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Ah, changed your sock puppet.

  • tisho

    If i were the Korean side, i would’ve attached one condition for Japan as well, and that is, for Japan to explicitly include ALL world wide confirmed information about the comfort women into the school textbook, and enforce their nation wide usage in schools. I see what Japan is trying to do, i am well familiar with their cunning style, Korea should act smartly here, and checkmate them in their own game. It is obvious that this Japanese government consists of revisionists and war crimes deniers, so expecting them to really acknowledge their crimes is a waste of time, they just want to get this problem off their heads, that’s why Korea should attach this very important condition and see what happens then.

    • 69station

      What utter drivel. Why on earth would any country include anything close to “world wide (sic) information about” any historical issue, however important, at the high school level? You need a PhD level of research just to even deal with the issue correctly, hardly something that any high school student possesses. I bet you’re the kind of person who also likes to lay into the Japanese education system for being ‘just a bunch of memorization for tests,’ yet here you are, pushing for a democratically elected government to “enforce” the mass memorization (that’s the only way they would get through it all) of a massive collection of historical data.

      • tisho

        Are you sure you read my comment correctly? I said Korea should also attach a condition for Japan, which would be for Japan to include the information about the comfort women in their high school textbooks and enforce those textbooks in all schools nation wide. Comfort women is taught in America and other countries as sex slaves committed by Japan, it is not taught in Japan. In order to avoid any accusations about bias, the information should be agreed upon by international historians, and include only verified information, not speculations by either country. Only VERIFIED information by international historians, this will dispel any future accusations that Korea is lying about the comfort women, since it is not Korean scholars, but international team of neutral historians who will be agreeing and verifying the authenticity of the information. Comfort women is a sex slave practiced systematically on a state level by Japan during ww2, and it is something that must be explained to kids, just like the holocaust is studied in every school in Germany. If Korea does not specifically highlight the ”enforced in all schools” part, then Japan will agree to this condition, include that info. in the school textbooks, but intentionally make sure this particular textbook never gets used in any school. You simply don’t know the cunning style of the Japanese. In fact, since Japan attaches two conditions for Korea, Korea should also attach two for Japan, so other than the textbook condition, another condition for Japan should be, never again for any government official to deny or downplay the existence or suffering of the comfort women. Had this condition is ever violated, Korea retain the right to violate their conditions as well.

    • Bernadette Soubirous

      A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.

      • tisho

        What is the meaning of ”understanding” ”true” and ”false”?

  • annupri

    in 2014 Dec, 122 former victims sued South Korean Goverment for encourging them into sex slavery services during/after Korean War. They were asking for apology with recognitions of their sufferings and only $1.2mil as reparations, but of course, Seoul Regional Court turned them down by insisting IT’s their duties to prove Korean Government was invloved in such process. Nither Government nor Chong Dae Hyup , or None of major korean medias talk about this “Another Sex Slaves” Waht so ever. How hypocritical they all are

    • Masako Lilly

      This is a political game. And we Japanese are losing it.

      There is no point in criticizing the Korean government. They didn’t have political rights under the Japanese regime. They did what the Japanese asked them to.

      After the war, they didn’t inform the victims about Japanese
      compensation, nor did they offer heartfelt apologies. I’m going to assume that THE RAPE VICTIMS DON’T CARE ABOUT APOLOGIES. They don’t care how sorry we are. They don’t care how much we paid to so-called “compensate” them. They tend not to forgive the perpetrators so easily.

      And soon enough, the Japanese government and public
      started to deny everything, instead of owning their mistakes and sincerely being sorry for what they did. Whatever goodwill the Japanese government achieved lost all meaning when they started trying to whitewash and rewrite history.

      As for the Korean Government, it was in their best interests to ignore the wrongdoing, since we know who was to blame.

      The more the Japanese government tries to save face, more
      convenient it is for the Korean government. It just makes them look better, because nobody likes a bully.

      • Toolonggone

        Not sure about that. It’s weird that almost all former victims of comfort women appeared in the local media are expressing anger at Japan–rather than South Korean government. I hold the government differently from former victims, per se. I don’t think they are a hapless victim of Japan’s invasion in the first place, regarding that they are the one who got criticized for the cover-up and inaction for +40 years. I don’t know what kind of plea bargain–or an unwritten rule– was made between the victims and the state. But, to me, it seems like the South Korean government attempts to use the anger of victims to make themselves look like a heroic figure–in a way to shift all the blame on Japan as the means of exoneration from public scrutiny on their accountability(similar tactics Japanese government did upon its citizens after WWII)– while they can’t make any promise for an overall improvement of women’s substantially low social status in their society.

      • Masako Lilly

        Isn’t that same as almost all former victims of atomic bombs
        appearing in the local media to express their anger toward the United States –rather than toward the Japanese government?

        I don’t think they are helpless victims of US bombing in the first place; regarding that, they are the ones who could have stopped the war at any time. To me, it seems like the Japanese government attempts to use the anger of victims to make themselves look like a heroic figure– to shift all the blame to the US to exonerate themselves from public scrutiny on their accountability, while they can’t make any promise for an overall improvement of Hibakusha. You know
        they still have to fight for their medical bill payments, right?

        I don’t see your point. So what if the Korean government does
        what they need to be done to save face? I don’t agree on that, but
        neither is it any of our business. There is no excuse for whitewashing history to the Japanese public. There is no good that can come out of it. Incidentally, my follow Japanese in the US protested against the statue of the comfort women. They are supposedly educated people. I hear the stories about Japanese expatriates explaining about their
        view of history to Americans. I just feel sad for them.

      • Toolonggone

        Masako, you are comparing an apple to an orange. What’s the point in comparing the state representative who had/has an exclusive power to control the public opinion at their will (such as criminalizing any speeches that audaciously challenge the state’s position on history) with civilians of specific region who might have certain rights yet were forced to live under threat of militarism with hikokumin stigma for dissent?

        Your counter-opinion fashioning plagiarism of my sentences (well done!) doesn’t sit well with the context for South Korean government. Do you really believe they (especially an autocratic regime in a pre-war period) were in a similar situational context as victims of A-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I disagree. Many of the victims already lived in harsh and miserable socio-economic condition for years, thanks to corruption by Korean regime in pre-war period. That was even before the imperial Japanese army came in to their peninsula in the early 1900s. The state regime let the ‘opportunist'(Japanese army) what it wanted as it pleased. They balked at the situation in which local brokers and predatory red-light traffickers aided the same ‘opportunist’–which turned out to be a monstrous, cruel killing machine later in wartime. If you have a menacing powerhouse came like a storm to join in a cock-fight to make further mess in your yard, it’s pretty much easy to forget what happened before it came because of its dominant masculinity(e.g., US military in battle of Okinawa). Just because you have empathy with former victims of comfort women, so you have to agree with almost everything what their government says. That is NOT the case.

        Had the former victims not come to Japan and shared their painful experience of sexual violence held within their memories, their voices would be buried underground forever. They took action by themselves because the Korean government was way too slow: slacking in investigating the events under pre-colonial autocratic regime and colonial period(1901-1945). In other words, they were so upset because South Korean government neglected them for so many years. Not only that, they were forced to live in a misery of highly male dominated society for years by keeping themselves in a low profile to avoid social stigma under military regime and even after its democratic-shift in the late 80s. To me, it seems like South Korean government coaxed the former victims into speaking out against Japanese government in order to gain their popularity (like saying, “we will cooperate as long as you would not pry us over the matter–and instead keep shouting at the ‘evil’ Japan for apology)

        No matter how much we criticize Japan’s cover-up of events, there’s no excuse for forgetting/neglecting the behaviors or conducts of the state regime at the time–and post-war period, as well. Both governments have been caught accountable for cover-up of crime against victims of sexual slavery in wartime–i.e., neglecting the voices, stigmatizing, fabricating. Both Abe and Pak have a family history relating to wartime. They stand as centrists in the political arena by holding a strong right-wing political platform in each respective society. Both Japan and South Korea remain low–the latter even lower–in terms of women’s social status. Yes, it’s political endgame, yet, the winner is unknown at this point. I find it questionable to fill the need of victims, and historical understanding of war culture and conflict.

      • Masako Lilly

        I believe we agree that this is a political game. But you seem to think
        the Japanese and Korean governments are equally culpable in this matter.

        That’s what I can’t agree on.

        I
        fully acknowledge the fact that the Korean government didn’t do their
        due diligence. Since they fully collaborated with the Japanese
        government, we may even name them as culprits.

        But I don’t see
        any point in highlighting their responsibility. Just because others do
        wrong doesn’t make you any less responsible for your own actions. If
        someone else robs a bank, that doesn’t give you the right to do so
        yourself, nor does it give you an excuse in a courtroom. “They did it,
        too!” is not an argument any judge will buy.

        The Germans don’t
        try to whitewash their history. Nor do they blame France and Poland for
        being easy to invade. Nor do they say “The (occupied) French government
        killed Jews, too!” They owned their history, acknowledged it as fact,
        made reparations, and continue to try and foster a new, healthy
        relationship with their neighbors. Japan just denies reality and tries
        to wriggle away from it, and hopes that enough people who actually
        remember firsthand will die so there’s no one left to point out the
        whitewash.

        Look at the Fukushima nuclear disaster. After all of
        the damage that was done, even after the incompetence started coming to
        light, no responsible party got arrested or even questioned. The government’s whitewashing of history and hiding of responsibility
        continues even today.

        The only reason the Korean government CAN
        keep criticizing Japan is because we are neglecting our responsibility.
        The only reason they are WINNING is because we keep giving them
        ammunition by refusing to face historical facts. I’m not talking about
        morality here, I’m talking about political reputation, and global
        impact. And I do believe we are losing this game.

      • Toolonggone

        Funny, you said, you are “not talking about morality here.” But you are arguing against South Korea’s possible culpability in the issue at the beginning.

        More to the point, I have never said “equally” in culpability. But South Korean government was/is no innocent agent for deliberately covering up the wartime misconduct. Their behavior resonates with Japanese counterpart in many respects– inherently chauvinistic attitude toward women, criminalizing individuals for criticizing national leader or challenging the viewpoint of state authority.

        Both governments blew it off so bad that they missed the opportunity to adjudicate war crime against humanity in pre-colonial and during colonial period. The 1965 bi-lateral treaty essentially killed it. Neither of them considered comfort women’s issue important at that time. This talk–which is second opportunity in the fifty years (first one in 1995 under the name of AWF, which didn’t work out) is essentially an alternative path to pursuing legal responsibility.

        No one can take Japan’s name off from sordid crime against victims in wartime, but it is doubtful that such gross misconduct was made solely by a sneaky opportunist (Japanese imperial army). One female Korean scholar is currently indicted for her book suggesting most victims were tricked into prostitution business by local brokers and traffickers, and eventually sold to the enemy–rather than caught in the hideout and dragged by Japanese army.

      • Toolonggone

        Not sure about that. It’s weird that almost all former victims of comfort women appeared in the local media are expressing anger at Japan–rather than South Korean government. I hold the government differently from former victims, per se. I don’t think they are a hapless victim of Japan’s invasion in the first place, regarding that they are the one who got criticized for the cover-up and inaction for +40 years. I don’t know what kind of plea bargain–or an unwritten rule– was made between the victims and the state. But, to me, it seems like the South Korean government attempts to use the anger of victims to make themselves look like a heroic figure–in a way to shift all the blame on Japan as the means of exoneration from public scrutiny on their accountability(similar tactics Japanese government did upon its citizens after WWII)– while they can’t make any promise for an overall improvement of women’s substantially low social status in their society.

  • Tarball

    During the Korean Conflict, the Japanese weren’t the only soldiers guilty of sex-crimes . . . . . yes, the Americans were implicit, too. Whereas the Japanese “rounded-up” women, American GI’s simply raped as they swept through Korean villages. It’s a sad “fact of war”. . . . . confirmed by Korean War veterans .

    • suteki

      There is a big difference. The first case was organized by the Japanese government. The second was not something approved by the American government or military.

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    Dear Japanese people do not give into this blackmail and extortion. Do not worry about the comfort woman statue in front of your embassy. The Chinese and North Korean governments are watching this very closely to see any weakness in the current Japanese government. Always negotiate from a position of power. The South Koreans should be asking the Chinese for an apology for the atrocities committed by them against the Korean people. Maybe the South Korean government should be worrying about the North Koreans instead of trying to shakedown the Japanese people.

    The South Koreans are acting like hypocrites. What about all the babies that Korean men leave in the Philippines? Maybe the Korean men look at those Filipinas in Cebu as comfort women.
    DON’T PAY THE MONEY JAPAN. THEY WLL ASK FOR MORE ON THE FUTURE.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      As a Japanese, I decline to accept your advice. Please take your anti-Korean agenda elsewhere- you are making Japan look bad.

      • Bernadette Soubirous

        Is there even a Korea anymore? It is either N. Korea or S. Korea.
        Hmm, so do you have any anti N. Korean feelings or do you see the kidnapping of Japanese citizens as something positive?
        No need to reply, because I think I made my point. Best wishes to you.

        Korea or Corea, called Hanguk (Korean: 한국; Hanja: 韓國) or Daehan (Korean: 대한; Hanja: 大韓) in South Korea and Chosŏn (Korean: 조선; Hanja: 朝鮮) in North Korea, is an East Asian territory that is divided into two distinct sovereign states: North Korea, formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and South Korea, formally the Republic of Korea (ROK)

      • Bec

        Yes because Koreans apparently love Japanese! Over 50 apologies were given, compensation in 65, compensation in the nineties again! And now in 2015 will receive again compensation and apologies! No other country on earth has done more to make up for its crimes of the past!
        You should be ashamed for not defending your country if you’re truly Japanese!!

  • Bec

    That evil guy Abe seems so willing to give apologizes and compensation!! Such a fanatical and radical person!! ^^

  • 132bpm

    $900,000.00
    An insulting and antagonizing amount.
    This shows why the Japanese are so unlikable.

  • suteki

    I hope the Japanese will include the truth in their history textbooks. Getting rid of the statue is one thing. Whitewashing history is another. A true apology and admission and ownership of their deeds would be the honorable thing to do, like the Germans have done after WWII with their history.

  • Ron NJ

    It’s not about apologies or money. It’s about properly educating the Japanese people about what happened instead of trying to whitewash history. You can’t just offer a bunch of money and apologize and expect the problem to disappear; people will, and should, continue to rub it in Japan’s face incessantly until Japan finally admits that the only way to resolve the issue is to include in all textbooks comprehensive sections which cover all of the atrocities that were committed during the war. No euphemisms, no whitewashing, just a solid section in every textbook along with assurances that the material will be covered in class during the primary education of every Japanese citizen.

    As usual, Japan just needs to take a note from the Germans, except we’re not asking for Japan to copy Willy Brandt and do a Kniefall in Seoul, just to stop trying to sweep the problem under the rug.

  • Robert Matsuda

    The compensation to former comfort women is necessary. Japan and Korea governments should talk about the way to pay compensation
    sincerely. But it is more important for Japanese to really understand what their army did after 1910 and apologize for their mistakes. Quite a few Japanese politicians and right-wing people have recently tried to justify what Japan did before and during World War 2 in the media. Without the reflection from their heart, it is not easy for Japanese government to get understanding of former comfort women and their supporters.