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‘Comfort women’ funds won’t be paid until sex slave statue outside Japanese Embassy removed: source

Kyodo

The money Japan promised in the “comfort women” agreement Monday won’t be paid unless the symbolic comfort women statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul is removed, a Japanese government source said, casting a shadow over the historic deal.

The text agreed by Seoul and Tokyo does not make removal a precondition for provision of funds.

The condition was set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the source said Wednesday, amid looming domestic opposition to the use of public funds to help the ianfu (comfort women) while the statue remains.

Ianfu is Japan’s euphemism for the girls and women who were rounded up to provide sex for Imperial Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. Many of the victims were from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

It will be a “litmus test” to gauge how serious the South Korean government is about resolving the matter, the government source said.

The individual said the agreement, a gesture of commitment by the Abe administration, is a bid to push Seoul to settle the issue once and for all.

The source noted that even though Tokyo believed the matter of the comfort women was resolved in a 1965 deal, it has helped the victims via the Asian Women’s Fund, and in 2001 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sent letters of apology to them.

The source said Abe believed the South Korean government had been “moving the goal posts” every time the nation underwent a change in leadership. If this occurred again, Tokyo was worried about a significant backlash from the Japanese public.

The source said the South Korean government recognized that Japan’s disbursement of the money, which Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said will total ¥1 billion, is contingent upon the statue’s removal.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told a group of South Korean reporters Wednesday that Seoul will urge Tokyo to refrain from behavior “that could cause misunderstanding,” an apparent reference to reports that Japan intended to link the money to the fate of the statue.

The statue’s removal was not mentioned as a condition for the financial aid when Kishida and Yun jointly announced the deal in Seoul on Monday. South Korea said of the statue in the announcement that it “will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner.”

The statue of a girl symbolizing the issue was erected in 2011 by the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group that supports survivors of the wartime ordeal, on a sidewalk near the embassy.

The group has refused calls to remove the statue and said at Wednesday’s weekly protest rally that it will try to get more of them built inside and outside South Korea.

Abe’s Facebook page has been flooded with protest messages from those dissatisfied with the bilateral agreement. Some branded it “a diplomatic defeat” and others threatened not to support his Cabinet.

  • 69station

    The source is bull. Read the relevant part of the agreement:

    “(ii) The Government of the ROK acknowledges the fact that the Government of Japan is concerned about the statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul from the viewpoint of preventing any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity, and will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner through taking measures such as consulting with related organizations about possible ways of addressing this issue.”

    Furthermore, whilst the agreement states that the Japanese government must implement the conditions it has agreed to,

    “…that the issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures specified in 1.”

    There is no such statement regarding the Korean side’s actions and their bearing on the validity of the agreement.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Ah, the truth at last; Japan isn’t really sorry, it’s just embarrassed by the truth.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Ah, the truth at last; Japan isn’t really sorry, it’s just embarrassed by the truth.

  • PuyiGoroIgor

    So, the so called ” comfort women ” was not the primary issue , the issue is the conscience-pricking statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. I say !! Why don’t ALL countries erect an sex slave/ comfort woman/ Ianfu statue at the gates of the Japanese embassy ?

  • Max Erimo

    Did anyone actually think Japan was seriously sorry. The Japanese govt is stirring trouble yo tae the population’s eyes and minds off the domestic problems. It’s working.

  • Richard Solomon

    The agreement notes that the Korean government will ‘strive’ to get the organizations related to the statue to remove it from its place in front of the Japanese embassy. The agreement does not state that the government of Korea will remove the statue. It didn’t take very long for Abe to try to ‘reinterpret’ the agreement regarding this issue, did it? By doing this he is showing his true colors/real agenda. And he is also threatening to undermine the opportunity for reconciliation with S Korea.

    Does Abe think the Korean people cannot see what he wants to do?!? Does he not realize that it is this kind of arrogant dishonesty that fuels the hatred that so many Koreans have for Japan?!?

  • Tando

    I knew there were ulterior motives, that is why I post again what I wrote 2 days ago: “If this agreement paves the way to improved relations between the two countries, it can’t be praised enough. Japan, China and South Korea are all playing the nationalism card to forward their own political agendas. What I don’t understand is, where does the sudden change of mind of PM Abe come from. He appears more like the chalk eating wolf with ulterior intentions. Or was it indeed American pressure that led to the accord. Does Abe for example intend to remove one of the last obstacles to shelf the ugly truth of Japanese aggression? At issue are not only the comfort women but the awareness that is was not only something that WENT wrong but rather that there WAS something wrong in Japan. One of the commentators of Abe’s WW2 commemoration speech last summer mentioned that, all the required keywords like deep remorse where there, but that the subject (those who commited it) was omitted. War here is often seen as a huge natural disaster that claims its victims on both sides. Funny thing is I only see the suffering of the Japanese on TV.”

  • Robert Matsuda

    Why doesn’t Japanese government pay comfort women’ funds unconditionally? Why did South Korean government pledge to remove
    the sex slave statue without talking with former comfort women? Do they really sympathize with former comfort women?
    If both governments make much of the policy or intention of the U.S. rather than the sentiment of comfort women, the deal between Japan and South Korea won’t work at all.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “As the prime minister of Japan, I would like to deeply and sincerely apologize to all the comfort women. Now, it shall never be mentioned again, and swept under the carpet, to be purged from our collective memory. I would also demand that South Korea do the same as I do not wish to ever be reminded of what I apologized for.”

  • Mitsuo Matsuyama

    The truth of matter is Korea doesnt want to solve this problem/ otherwise she would fullfill the promise of removing the statue which was in the agreement. So, we just return to the old stage as always. Too bad, a new year just begun and she is just thinking about 1930s.

  • Toolonggone

    There are two types of sources they have. One is the notes/correspondents that will be shared with your partner. The other one is classified documents that will be shared within the internal organization only. Kind of tactics Japanese government uses to protect the diplomatic interest made in unspoken mutual consent with their partner. Example: Japan agreeing to pay accumulating land costs of US military bases in Okinawa prior to and after its reversion in 1972.