Abe, Park may meet in U.S. to settle ‘comfort women’ issue

Kyodo

The Japanese and South Korean governments are considering holding a meeting of their leaders in March in Washington to endorse settling the “comfort women” issue, sources said Saturday.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se are on Monday to discuss the issue of women who were procured to work at wartime Japanese military brothels.

If they agree on steps to solve the issue, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye may meet in Washington on the sidelines of a two-day nuclear security summit starting March 31 and then issue a joint statement to confirm the settlement of the dispute, the sources said.

The outcome of Monday’s talks is uncertain because there is a wide gap between the two countries over the amount of money that Japan should provide for a new fund to support former comfort women.

Tokyo is considering an offer of over ¥100 million ($830,000), but South Korea seeks at least ¥1 billion, a diplomatic source said.

The two countries are expected to seek a compromise Sunday at a meeting in Seoul of their senior officials.

Bilateral relations have been badly strained over World War II-related issues.

If the foreign ministers reach a basic agreement on the issue on Monday, Tokyo plans to request that Park visit Japan at an early date.

But given the possibility that such a visit would provoke a strong backlash from South Korean groups supporting former comfort women, the idea of holding an Abe-Park meeting in Washington to endorse the deal has come up.

As U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Japan and South Korea to work toward improving their relationship, Obama may also join the Abe-Park meeting in Washington, the sources said.

In a related move, the South Korean government lodged a protest with Japan on Saturday over Japanese media reports saying Seoul is considering relocating a statue of a girl symbolizing the comfort women from in front of the Japanese Embassy in the capital.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned a senior official of the Japanese Embassy and explained that it is not for the South Korean government to say what to do about the statue because it was put up by a civic group, according to a ministry official.

Citing unnamed South Korean government sources, some Japanese media organizations had reported that South Korea would consider relocating the statue if Tokyo offered conditions acceptable to Seoul to settle the long-standing dispute.

  • Tina

    Hopefully, both countries will finally put this behind them and stop using history as a hostage for political motives. More importantly, maybe the comfort women will find some peace of mind finally, since they are the only victims in all this and always seem to be forgotten when this issue crops up.

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    This has nothing to do with the comfort women. This is all about the South Korean government wanting to keep an issue alive to distract the South Korean people from the real issues that plague South Korea.
    The South Korean government does not want this comfort woman issue to end. The comfort women were also abused by Korean men.
    After the money has been paid you watch and see that other nations will come asking for money.

  • Steve Jackman

    If Japan is indeed serious about resolving this issue, it should negotiate in good faith, instead of offering such a ridiculously small amount in compensation to victims of sexual slavery. 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.

    Japan may be using such an underhanded tactic to achieve its dual objectives 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 when they ask for a larger monetary compensation for the victims.

    Such maneuvers by Japan is not going to help Japan win any friends. 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 see through their demagougery.

  • Steve Jackman

    If Japan is indeed serious about resolving this issue, it should negotiate in good faith, instead of offering such a ridiculously small amount in compensation to victims of sexual slavery. 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.

    Japan may be using such an underhanded tactic to achieve its dual objectives 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 when they ask for a larger monetary compensation for the victims.

    Such maneuvers by Japan is not going to help Japan win any friends. 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 see through their demagougery.

  • tomado

    Very shallow idea here, that these two politicians can “settle” anything. Dealing with the pain of history is an ongoing effort in a relationship. Have the Germans settled anything, or do they just have an open connection with the meaning of history? It makes me sad to see such an emotionally unintelligent view of life.

  • tomado

    Very shallow idea here, that these two politicians can “settle” anything. Dealing with the pain of history is an ongoing effort in a relationship. Have the Germans settled anything, or do they just have an open connection with the meaning of history? It makes me sad to see such an emotionally unintelligent view of life.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Why can’t Abe and Park do this by themselves? Why do they need to do this in the United States months later?

  • Liars N. Fools

    Why can’t Abe and Park do this by themselves? Why do they need to do this in the United States months later?

  • Liars N. Fools

    It looks like there is an agreement, including an apology from the PM and a ¥1 billion fund as a final settlement. Congratulations to the two Foreign Ministers and their aides.