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Former ‘comfort women’ come to Tokyo to slam deal with Seoul, demand direct Abe apology

Kyodo, AP, JIJI

Two elderly South Korean survivors of the wartime military-run brothels are in Japan to reject the recent settlement agreement between the two governments.

They want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to apologize face-to-face and pay formal compensation.

South Koreans Lee Ok-sun, 88, and Kang Il-chul, 87, told reporters Tuesday that the agreement neglected the victims’ feelings and was “wrong.”

“The deal is making a fool out of us,” Kang said. “It was agreed without any consultations with us. How can they agree by pushing us aside? I’m furious.”

Lee said, “It is as if the Japanese government is waiting for us to stop speaking out and die.”

On Dec. 28, the South Korean and Japanese governments agreed to end the drawn-out dispute over the issue “finally and irreversibly,” with Tokyo pledging to provide ¥1 billion for a new South Korean foundation aimed at helping aging former comfort women.

Kang and Lee are among the 10 women living in the House of Sharing, a group home for former comfort women on the outskirts of Seoul. A total of 46 survivors are living in South Korea — a tiny fraction of the many thousands thought to have served in the brothels.

In a separate move, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday approved a resolution that calls for an early removal of a statue in Seoul of a girl symbolizing the comfort women.

The LDP urged the government to step up efforts to ensure that the statue in front of the Japanese Embassy is quickly removed.

The resolution says the statue hurts the dignity of the embassy and that it is important for both sides to steadily implement the bilateral Dec. 28 agreement.

The resolution refers to the Japanese government’s plan to fund the foundation to be established by the South Korean government to provide support to former comfort women.

The Japanese government should sincerely discuss the plan with the South Korean government and fulfill its accountability to the Japanese public, it says.

  • johnniewhite

    These ladies are supposed to discuss the matter with their leader, Miss Park. That was the agreement between the foreign ministers. The normalization treaty of 1965 should have been the same: the Korean government ignored its people, and invested all the money they received from Japan on econominic growth.

  • solodoctor

    What an opportunity lost! Instead of Abe and Park arranging for these women and their cohorts to meet directly with him they come out in the Diet with reporters present to blast the agreement. Will Abe ever understand that he needs to make amends to these women personally if the issue is to ever be ‘finally resolved?!? These are elementary dynamics of reconciliation that he fails/refuses to grasp.

  • disquseur

    I side with these poor women who fell victim to the cruelty of Japanese wartime atrocities. But somewhat I also feel that they are exasperated no matter what. It is unfortunately too late for the both countries to heal their souls and solve the problem.

  • Philosopher

    It’s amazing that Park and Abe could even think of discussing reconciliation over WWII sexual slavery without inviting the former slaves. It doesn’t seem to be a reconciliation at all.

    • disquseur

      Well it is a political problem, isn’t it? The former slaves requested, after rejecting the humanitarian assistance led by the Asian Female Fund, that the problem be solved through political channels. I do not see why they now claim that the political leaders are not in the place to solve the issue. Then who is?
      To me, it all goes to the Confucius philosophy of these victims wanting to have Japan “lose its face.” That is what they want. Not money, not apology.

    • disquseur

      Well it is a political problem, isn’t it? The former slaves requested, after rejecting the humanitarian assistance led by the Asian Female Fund, that the problem be solved through political channels. I do not see why they now claim that the political leaders are not in the place to solve the issue. Then who is?
      To me, it all goes to the Confucius philosophy of these victims wanting to have Japan “lose its face.” That is what they want. Not money, not apology.

    • disquseur

      Well it is a political problem, isn’t it? The former slaves requested, after rejecting the humanitarian assistance led by the Asian Female Fund, that the problem be solved through political channels. I do not see why they now claim that the political leaders are not in the place to solve the issue. Then who is?
      To me, it all goes to the Confucius philosophy of these victims wanting to have Japan “lose its face.” That is what they want. Not money, not apology.

      • Philosopher

        The political leaders are not in place to solve the issue because they’re not talking to the victims. They’re talking about them. In most civilised countries, before a sentence is passed on a felon convicted of a violent act, a victim statement is read out in court. Here Abe and Park, acting as judges in a case that neither of them have acted impartially on in the past, have not even invited the victims to speak.

      • disquseur

        In case you missed some of my sentences, the very victims demanded the political solution back in 1995, when they refused the humanitarian solution. I personally of course believe that it is better when the victims are involved in the process, but they refused it. The victims back then demanded an official apology as well as compensation from the Japanese government, and not from the people of Japan who tried to involve them.
        If you bring jurisprudential aspects to this topic, then I’m sorry, victims and NGOs are out of international public law. Only states are competent to make an agreement or conclude a treaty between them.
        So again, this is to me the culture of “han” of Korea. However, as a disclaimer, by this opinion I do not mean to say that Japan does not have to apology anymore, which the current cabinet is seeking.

    • disquseur

      Well it is a political problem, isn’t it? The former slaves requested, after rejecting the humanitarian assistance led by the Asian Female Fund, that the problem be solved through political channels. I do not see why they now claim that the political leaders are not in the place to solve the issue. Then who is?
      To me, it all goes to the Confucius philosophy of these victims wanting to have Japan “lose its face.” That is what they want. Not money, not apology.

    • disquseur

      Well it is a political problem, isn’t it? The former slaves requested, after rejecting the humanitarian assistance led by the Asian Female Fund, that the problem be solved through political channels. I do not see why they now claim that the political leaders are not in the place to solve the issue. Then who is?
      To me, it all goes to the Confucius philosophy of these victims wanting to have Japan “lose its face.” That is what they want. Not money, not apology.