The “comfort women” issue never seems to stray from the headlines. It seems that every month there is a new comment by a Japanese government official or by a Chinese or Korean counterpart that sparks unhappy responses, and further draws out an almost-70-year-old issue. In all honesty, it’s time that this issue be resolved so that Japan can build stronger relationships with South Korea and China.
Right-wing politicians as well as many conservative Japanese oppose the 1993 Kono statement (which admitted that the Japanese military coerced women into sexual slavery and implied that the subject would be taught to future generations). They maintain that comfort women were not forced into service and that the claims of the Kono statement and by the Chinese and Korean governments are false.
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent statements that he does not have any intention to revise the Kono statement, there is continued pressure from the right to do so.
The stance against the Kono statement does nothing to move Japan forward; instead, it entrenches Japan in the past. Statements have come from comfort women themselves about their experiences.
This issue looks as if it will persist beyond the deaths of the remaining comfort women unless there is a reconciliation. The issue has put up walls between Japan and its neighbors. The Japanese government as a whole needs to recognize the issue as unchallengeable fact, perhaps like Germany treats Holocaust deniers. The government needs to stop arguing over lost battles of past generations and move on.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.