Park calls on S. Korea to support ‘comfort women’ deal with Japan

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Thursday called on her people to support the deal on wartime sex slavery brokered with Japan on Monday.

Her call came a day after a South Korean civic group vowed to begin work erecting additional statues similar to one in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul that commemorates the ordeal of girls and young women forced to become “comfort women” for Imperial Japanese troops.

As claim and counter-claim flew over the Tokyo-Seoul agreement, Park’s office issued a statement Thursday saying it would be “extremely difficult” to conclude a deal that satisfies everyone.

The statement urged South Koreans to work toward the improvement of bilateral ties after years of deadlock, asking for “understanding” by them and by the victims with regard to the broader view, to “rally support for the future of the country.”

The bronze statue of a young woman clad in traditional Korean clothes has drawn the ire of Japan, which has asked for it to be removed.

However, the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan said Wednesday it was planning new statues both in South Korea and other countries as a show of its opposition to Monday’s landmark deal between Japan and South Korea to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the long-standing dispute.

The group made the pledge at its weekly rally in front of the embassy, which saw around 700 people gather to protest and mourn the deaths this year of nine former comfort women, according to local police.

The rallies have been held more than 1,000 times, Yonhap News Agency reported. The event Wednesday was the first since the agreement between the two nations was struck.

While the agreement has drawn criticism from the victims and others over Tokyo’s refusal to accept formal legal responsibility, many in particular object to the South Korean government’s agreement to “make efforts” toward removing the comfort women statue.

“The fight is still on,” survivor Lee Yong-soo, 88, said at the rally. “We will continue to fight to make Japan take formal legal responsibility and apologize so that victims who have already perished will have justice.”

The mood was somber as the group commemorated the nine former sex slaves who died this year. It later turned angry, with protesters shouting slogans denouncing Japan and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Demonstrators held portraits of the victims and waved banners condemning the deal, particularly Seoul’s pledge to try to remove the statue from outside the embassy.

“Cancel the humiliating agreement!” some chanted, waving banners that read: “Say no to relocation of the statue!”

The Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday quoted a South Korean official as denying Japanese news reports that Seoul agreed to relocate the statue.

“Japan made no such demand during the negotiations,” the official told Yonhap on condition of anonymity.

Nevertheless, observers have noted that Japan would find it difficult to implement the deal if the South Korean government fails to convince the council to remove the statue.The statue was erected in December 2011, with Japan calling for its removal ever since. The civic group behind the statue said there were 27 similar monuments in South Korea, with a further three outside the country.

In the face of criticism, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has launched an all-out campaign to win public support for the deal. Senior officials on Tuesday visited shelters for the victims and pleaded for their support — a key step in securing broader approval.

The handful of comfort women who have spoken about the agreement have mostly rejected it, but the views of others are not known.

However, a recent poll showed 66 percent of South Koreans opposed relocating the statue.

Park has called for “understanding by the public and the victims” regarding the deal, which was warmly welcomed by the United States. It has long urged its two key Asian allies to resolve their differences.

Up to 200,000 women in Asia, many of them Koreans but also from China, the Philippines and what is now Indonesia are estimated to have been forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Japan has long maintained that its disputes with South Korea were fully settled in a 1965 agreement which saw the two countries normalize diplomatic ties and Tokyo make a payment of $800 million.

But Seoul has said that the treaty did not cover compensation for victims of wartime crimes and did not absolve Japan of responsibility.

The compromise agreement also drew a mixed reaction in Japan, with some far-right activists and newspapers criticizing Abe for offering an apology.

China took a different tack, with state media slamming Japan’s long-awaited mea culpa as insincere and insufficient.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Where angels fear to tread. As someone who has spent long periods of time in Korea and Japan and is a strong opponent of Japanese revisionism, let me say this.

    The rejectors in Korea are being unreasonable. For years, the comfort women demanded a specific, official apology and a payment from official sources. That was and is the core of the “conditions” to their view of a resolution. That core part of their conditions has been met. Their demands for a “restoration of honor” and “genuine remorse on the part of Japan” are salutary, but they are also abstract and not measurable, at least not in terms that they themselves have articulated. So this is not a perfect agreement, but the perfect should not stand in the way of a very good agreement that has met the concrete terms that the sex slave survivors and their NGO supporters have articulated for years.

    For years, the moral strength of the sex slaves was buttressed not only by the grievous wrongs inflicted upon them by the Imperial Japanese authorities but also the overly legalistic manner in which many post-war Japanese administrations, including the Abe administration up to now, have equivocated and evaded. Now I fear that the rejectors are falling into a similar trap of becoming overly legalistic. They are free to continue their activities. The Korean government only made a commitment to try to convince the groups from removing the statues but they lack the authority to force their removal.

    I think this was a very good agreement, and I congratulate Abe Shinzo and Park Geun-hye for their accomplishment. This backlash was probably always going to happen, as is the more muted backlash in Japan by revisionist groups. Time to move forward.

    • Junio Koo

      I’m Korean and I agree with you. To be honest the deal is not perfect and I am disappointed with President Park because Japan didn’t say that comfort women were forced to get raped by Japanese military not selling body like prostitute. However, the agreement also said Japanese government take a responsibility for comfort women even though the responsibility Japanese government said is vague. Also, I understand why President Park made this decision since Japan is important neighboring country and she knows if Korea and Japan cooperate with each other, it will be good for both countries. I think she made her mind to take blame from Koreans to make better relationship between Korea and Japan. The sad thing is Korean President might go to unsatisfied comfort women to apologize in stead of Japanese Prime minister since they are not happy about this deal at all because Japanese government didn’t acknowledge it was forced rape. I think she put first future relationship between Korea and Japan before comfort women. I just feel sorry for these comfort women since what they really want is that Japan said they are victim of forced rape by previous Japanese government and Japanese government regret their crime and sorry. Many comfort women will pass away after few years because they are very old and I don’t feel like they will hear this before they die.

      However, Korea and Japan shouldn’t fight forever, and I also think it is time to move forward like you think. Korea and Japan has complicated history but also we helped each other. Japan help Korea to overcome IMF crisis and Korean people also donated lots of money when Japanese suffered from earthquake.(Humanitarian response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – In total, private donations originating from Korea amounted to 2.97 billion Japanese Yen (37.1 million US dollars in March 2011),South Korea the 5th largest foreign donation following USA, Taiwan, Canada and Germany) I do not want the relationship between Korea and Japan become like the relationship between Israel and Palestine, and I do think Korea and Japan will be a good neighbour country to each other. When I was in the US and New Zealand, I saw Koreans and Japanese get along very well. I also had kind and nice Japanese friends. I don’t know about other people experience but when I was in foreign country, Koreans and Japanese get along very well and kind to each other. Sometimes media only shows biased news and make people misunderstand each other. Korea and Japan are both democratic countries and share similar value as Asian country. I do think Korea and Japan will be good neighboring country. Japanese people I met personally were kind and good. I read your comment in your other article. I didn’t plan to reply but after I read your comment, I thought there will be good future for two countries. I think you are trying to understand Korean people. Thank you and I hope this agreement help Korea and Japan closer to each other and I believe Korea and Japan will become a good neighboring country to each other!!!

      • Liars N. Fools

        Thank you for your note. There are lots of examples of Koreans and Japanese getting on very well with no discussion about politics or history simply because they are just ordinary people getting on with life and interested in learning about and interacting with people from different cultures. These are the interactions that matter the most and create a community of people 인맥.

    • TV Monitor

      Liars N. Fools

      One of rejectors being Moon Jae In, the leader of the opposition and the presidential poll leader for the election due in 2017.

      Moon declared this agreement null, void, and illegal, and pledged his administration would never honor it. Furthermore, he’s visiting the comfort women before President Park to fire up the comfort women and guarantee the women that they have his backing in continuing the struggle when his party assumes power at the end of 2017.

      • COYP

        Unless Korea goes into recession in the next year (which is possible but unlikely) I can’t see Koreans risking NPAD having control of their economy anytime soon.

    • tisho

      If you think that the ”core” part of their only demand has been met, then you; A) do not speak Japanese on a native level. B) do not understand japanese culture. and C) have not been following the events close enough.

  • Al_Martinez

    I’d love to see a Lai Đại Hàn monument erected in front of the Korean Embassy in Hanoi. Maybe the Japanese government should secretly pay for one.

    • EmmaDelores

      Its kinda so freaky funny what you say because the other day I was with my Vietnamese girlfriends and we were in the park and two of them spat on that statue. I did not know why so I said like why are you guys doing that and they told me about the Korean rapes in Vietnam and all that kinda history. OMG that is kinda like so disgusting when Korea is making so much noise to Japan. Just so LOL

      • Xman2014

        They spat on the statue? That only tells us one thing, how disrespectful and spiteful they are. There was never a mass Korean government sanctioned system of rape of Vietnamese women. Any few rapes that were done by Koreans were bad individual renegade soldiers. There was never a Korean government sponsored system to rape them. Nor Koreans in Vietnam, conquerers in Vietnam. They were there as an ally of South Vietnam. Unlike what Japan did, where Japan had a systematic system of recruiting, fooling, and shipping out of hundreds of thousands of girls from conquered Asian nations, like Korea, Taiwan, China, Philippines, and Indonesia so that hey can forcibly have sex with 100 Japanese soldiers a day. You guys are trying to justify something by using something incomparable.

    • EmmaDelores

      Its kinda so freaky funny what you say because the other day I was with my Vietnamese girlfriends and we were in the park and two of them spat on that statue. I did not know why so I said like why are you guys doing that and they told me about the Korean rapes in Vietnam and all that kinda history. OMG that is kinda like so disgusting when Korea is making so much noise to Japan. Just so LOL

    • EmmaDelores

      Its kinda so freaky funny what you say because the other day I was with my Vietnamese girlfriends and we were in the park and two of them spat on that statue. I did not know why so I said like why are you guys doing that and they told me about the Korean rapes in Vietnam and all that kinda history. OMG that is kinda like so disgusting when Korea is making so much noise to Japan. Just so LOL

    • Xman2014

      Now why would Japanese government pay for something like that? Shouldn’t Vietnamese victims do that, themselves?

  • Tara Cheney

    The real problem is that Japan continues to be embarrassed regarding the rape and sexual slavery of these women. The statues are a constant reminder of how the Japanese raped their way across Asia during the war and they don’t want this reminder. Apologies and money are not enough. There has to be an education programme within the Japanese national curriculum that explicitly teaches Japanese youth about WWII atrocities. Germany has educated its youth regarding WWII, countries colonized by the British have explicitly taught it ( Decimation of Australian aborigines, Native Indians in America, African slavery, Indian colonization etc.) Every country has aspects of the past that they are not proud of but Japan cannot “swallow its pride” and allow its inhabitant to learn from the crimes the Japanese forefathers committed.

  • Tara Cheney

    The real problem is that Japan continues to be embarrassed regarding the rape and sexual slavery of these women. The statues are a constant reminder of how the Japanese raped their way across Asia during the war and they don’t want this reminder. Apologies and money are not enough. There has to be an education programme within the Japanese national curriculum that explicitly teaches Japanese youth about WWII atrocities. Germany has educated its youth regarding WWII, countries colonized by the British have explicitly taught it ( Decimation of Australian aborigines, Native Indians in America, African slavery, Indian colonization etc.) Every country has aspects of the past that they are not proud of but Japan cannot “swallow its pride” and allow its inhabitant to learn from the crimes the Japanese forefathers committed.

  • Tara Cheney

    The real problem is that Japan continues to be embarrassed regarding the rape and sexual slavery of these women. The statues are a constant reminder of how the Japanese raped their way across Asia during the war and they don’t want this reminder. Apologies and money are not enough. There has to be an education programme within the Japanese national curriculum that explicitly teaches Japanese youth about WWII atrocities. Germany has educated its youth regarding WWII, countries colonized by the British have explicitly taught it ( Decimation of Australian aborigines, Native Indians in America, African slavery, Indian colonization etc.) Every country has aspects of the past that they are not proud of but Japan cannot “swallow its pride” and allow its inhabitant to learn from the crimes the Japanese forefathers committed.

  • Brian Park

    Ridiculous. How do you make an genuine apology when you’re making conditions like removing monuments to the victims’ memory? It’s clear to me that Japan only cares about its pride and reputation rather than forgiveness.

    Let’s be real here, this is not about the money. A measly 8 million dollars to be divided by 40+ women is not substantial. The whole agreement is symbolic in nature and therefore, must only be concluded if it’s honest and genuine from both sides.

    You can ask the victims to forgive, but you should never have the audacity to ask them to forget. We should never forget, lest we want history to repeat itself.

  • Fuyuu

    There are recorded documents (all verifiable) showing the
    following facts: 



    -The war-time brothels were operated by individuals, mostly by Koreans.
    – Women at those brothels were earning very high income.
    
- Some women traveled home to Korea and returned on own will.
    

- Women were recruited openly by brothels’ newspaper ads.
    
- There were NO (zero) reports of protest of any kind in Korea, meaning women were not taken by force.
    – During the war, the US Army captured 20 women and interrogated them, which found that women were “professional camp followers” (US Office of War Report 49).
    

- Asahi Newspaper, who originally reported comfort women as being systematically forced, has retracted all of its reports as being false.

    

There are many more evidences indicating that those women were camp-followers, or war-time prostitutes. Japanese Army’s guilt was patronizing them, and not shutting the brothels down and sending women home (something no army has done in history).

    Koreans’ attempt to white-wash those prostitutes as innocent victims of a foreign power, in essence, justifies prostitutions in their society. In fact, prostitution is still extremely rampant in Korea today. Per its own government report, prostitution industry in Korea accounts for >4% of its GDP. Korean prostitutes are also everywhere. The LAPD found 90% of prostitutes caught in LA were Korean women.

    

Koreans must face ALL the facts (instead of falsifying them and slandering and distorting Japan and others (the US is up next)), and need to solve this *current* prostitution problem in their own society.

    • http://twitch.tv/guilty_swordz Arthur Strong

      thank you atleast somebody here knows the TRUTH and FACTS. I can only help but feel sorry for these people who believe these lies. These comfort women are liars and owned the Brothels! One of the comfort women has even changed her story on how she was “kidnapped”. Typical Korea needs MORE AND MORE MONEY AND HELP from Japan for their economy. Japan liberated ASIA in WW2 and they claim Japan invaded? Funny how Chinese and Koreans were fighting with the Japanese in WW2 but yet they claim Japan is evil and Japan didn’t save and help them. nobody wants to bring up the Vietnam massacred by the korean army during vietnam war. instead korea steal japanese culture. technology, and making lies about Japan. Korea and China get mad and angry when Prime Minister visit YASUKUNI SHRINE! Just tells you what kind of people they are and what they think.

  • robert grainger

    Canada gave more money to Japan and Korea for the imprisonment of Canadian Japanese during WW2 than these dicks are willing to pay for what in effect made prostitutes and servants out of thousands of women….you demanded we paid…now we demand and you should pay.