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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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 .

  • 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.

  • Bec

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

  • 132bpm

    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.