The challenges behind the 2015 agreement over the comfort women testimonies and the resolve
One wonders, since 1945, why hasn’t the struggle in the Japanese Empire over the comfort women testimonies come to an end? The world could also be asking why there has not been a solid resolve despite the efforts the Japanese have made to show remorse even through a foundation that would involve the government of South Korea to handle the operations directly.
These are not rhetoric. They have solid reasons that guard them. If you have followed the comfort women testimonies, the majority of them never got back to South Korea after the Second World War for decades, while others died. The set back lies in between the end of the war and the time the story came to the public domain.
One approach to this matter. Many countries in Asia are pure conservative countries that keep their culture close to their chests. The comfort women testimonies reveal how hard it was for them to go back to their countries. The society would not even allow them to mingle with others; they were outcasts.
Lee Ok Seon was a victim of the comfort women stories. When they were released from the brothel, she couldn’t go back home, but instead got married to a Chinese widower. Unfortunately, the husband died years later, and Lee decided to go back to South Korea. The ground was very harsh for her. Even her brother disowned Lee.
Well, it took too long to have the first woman to confess the comfort women stories publicly. After that, others came up and that is when civil societies and other human rights activists pushed the government to bring Japan into the light.
The successive governments have had different approaches and divergent views. For instance, according to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, he feels it is unfair to push him into admitting systematic crimes by the Japanese military on the women of Korea during the World War 11.
In their own right, of course with substantive proof, Japan has extended enough compensation especially in 1965 when they offered more than $800 million economic support and loans. According to Japan, they have already expressed remorse and acknowledgment of the comfort women stories.
In 1995, Japan also formed a victims fund that South Korea received. However, the funds were not directly coming from the government of Japan but the donors’ kits. In 1993, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yohei Kono, announced the position of Japan in the comfort women testimonies. He recognized the presence and the damage they went through in the Second World War.
Looking at the genesis of the whole matter in the government of Japan, they have all their reasons to claim that they have done all within their mandate to compensate and to rebuild the bilateral relation between Japan and South Korea. Though, there are more demands from them from the government of South Korea before the 2015 agreement.
South Korea’s end
From the history of the successions of the Japanese government; you will get the demands of the South Korean government over time. Claims by the government of Japan are that South Korea seems to be shifting goal posts on its demands. That is why they termed the December 2015 agreement as irreversible.
However, South Korea has her strings to pull when it comes to compensation. The speech by Willy Brandt asking for an apology. That to them is a priority. Brandt said that the apology alone had healed them.
Ahn Sum made an almost similar statement; she claimed that even if Japan gave them the whole of their land, it would not heal them. They need an address by the government of Japan to the comfort women stories. An apology and recognition of their suffering allegedly caused by the military of Japan.
Now, where is the stalemate?
Japan keeps in mind that, there are comfort women stories in other parts of Asia like China, Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan. What will happen if she confesses guilt of systematic crimes? What if she decides to compensate directly the comfort women testimonies in South Korea?
The implications are almost self-evident. Each of the countries above will be up in arms against Japan. Many other Asian countries have the comfort women stories and will take Japan against her word. For this reason, Japan has not come out clear on the direct participation of the comfort women testimonies ordeal.
A new dawn
In December 2015, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Japan and South Korea signed the agreement that they termed irreversibly, and that would bring the two countries to terms. The agreement would keep Japan safe from future demands and would be a onetime sealed deal.
In the proposal, the government of Japan would include in her budget one billion Yen to fund a foundation in South Korea. The foundation would bring the comfort women stories to a soft spot or reconciliation and rebuilding the lives of the women that suffered in Japan during the Second World War.
At the same time, Japan sent unreserved apologies and expressed remorse to the afflictions of the comfort women testimonies in South Korea. The Prime Minister of Japan categorically stated in a statement to the 2015 agreement that Japan needs to restore good relations between the two countries.
The plea that Abe expressed is that there should be no further criticism before the United Nations and International community on the comfort women stories. With that in mind, the government of Japan shall have sorted out the burden on its shoulders and presumably solved the conflict on her part.
The Impeached President of South Korea Park Geun also enforced in a statement during the 2015 agreement that she hoped that contract would be a bridge to rebuilding trust and open new relationship. That is a strong signal that South Korea would come to a consensus and end the comfort women stories.
The Minister for foreign affairs of South Korea, Yun Byung, added his voice to his counterpart of Japan Fumio Kishida saying that, if the government of Japan kept her part of the deal, then the agreement would be irreversible. With these expressions of goodwill, the comfort women stories will likely take a path of healing.