Kingston errs on ‘comfort women’

Jeff Kingston’s Counterpoint columns in the April 16 and 23 editions regarding the “comfort women” issue contain clearly erroneous assertions and could lead to misunderstanding among readers. I would like to share several points that the author failed to mention or erroneously presented in his articles.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, stated that “we will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honor of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century, and lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.” His thoughts remain unchanged from those of the previous prime ministers.

As part of the Japan-South Korea agreement reached in 2015, the foreign ministers of both countries confirmed that the comfort women issue is “resolved finally and irreversibly.” Implementing the agreement in a responsible manner is not only a requirement but also an obligation for both countries toward the international community.

Regarding the case of a comfort woman statue in Glendale, California, and the amicus curiae brief submitted by the Japanese government, I would point out that the amicus curiae brief was presented in accordance with U.S. court procedure. The purpose of our submission is to provide to the court an accurate understanding of the basic position of the government of Japan. The brief simply highlighted that the establishment of the statue in Glendale is profoundly regrettable and incompatible with the position of the Japanese government.

Another important point to note is that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations stipulates that “the receiving state shall take such steps as may be necessary … to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity.” The installment of the statue has indeed an undesirable impact on Japan-South Korea relations and the dignity of the Japanese mission. The 2015 agreement expresses the understanding that “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.”

As for the return of Yasumasa Nagamine, Japan’s ambassador to South Korea, this decision was made based on an overall consideration of various circumstances. I suppose the readers will understand the importance of this decision especially in light of the recent situation over North Korea.

NORIO MARUYAMA
PRESS SECRETARY, FOREIGN MINISTRY

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.