WASHINGTON – A South Korean university professor, appearing at a symposium in the U.S. capital, criticized the recent Japan-South Korea agreement to resolve the “comfort women” issue for being negotiated in secret.
The process leading up to the accord about women forced into wartime brothels for Japanese soldiers was “not transparent,” Park Yu-ha, a professor at Sejong University in South Korea, told the symposium Monday.
“People are not convinced that this was the resolution that is to close off all discussions on the matter,” Park said, adding that the bilateral deal was reached “behind closed doors.” She is the author of a book whose title can be translated as “Comfort Women of the Empire.”
Park highlighted the need to create “a consultative body where people can discuss” the matter with the Japanese and South Korean governments.
After the symposium, Park said it is natural that objections have been raised because the necessary process of holding discussions with South Koreans was omitted.
The process should be carried out over the next six to 12 months, she said.
Another participant to the symposium, Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut, criticized the accord as it calls for the removal of a statue of a girl symbolizing the comfort women issue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
“Neither the Japanese nor the South Korean government has the right to mess with this statue,” Dudden said. “The survivors (among former comfort women) and their supporters alone decide where it belongs.”
She also said groups around the world are demanding the removal of statues representing perpetrators of what are now regarded as criminal acts.