‘Comfort women’ deal faulted
Though the Japanese-South Korean agreement on “comfort women” was praised by US politicians as “a milestone” and “the first step”, Chinese advocates in the US regard it as “narrow” and lacking sincerity.
The agreement was a very limited and belated step rather than a “milestone”, as the Japanese government did not make clear the “involvement of the Japanese military authorities” in the comfort women issue or who was responsible, said Peipei Qiu, professor and director of Asian Studies at Vassar College.
“What is most problematic is that the victims did not seem to have been consulted when the two governments made the deal,” said Qiu, who is also the co-author of Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves.
was reached in a narrow perspective without considering the voices of the communities,” said Ignatius Ding, executive vice-president of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia.
“During World War II, the Japanese Army inflicted tremendous suffering on the people of eleven Asian countries, but Japan did not address its crimes in the agreement,” said Ding. “Japan failed to account for their crimes to the victims of Japanese aggression.”
“Thus far we have not heard any report on what steps Japan will take with China and other Asian countries that had large numbers of women enslaved by the Japanese military comfort stations during the war,” said Qiu.
“It is clear, however, that none can announce ‘this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly’ without addressing the suffering of hundreds of thousands of comfort women drafted from all the countries imperial Japan invaded,” she said.
It is believed that 200,000 girls and women were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Army during World War II, and most of them were from China and Korea.
Under the agreement reached by Japan and South Korean on Monday in Seoul, Japan will give 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) in government funds for South Korea to establish a foundation providing care to the women.
“Saying sorry and giving money is far from adequate to account for the terrible things that the Japanese army did,” said Ding. “Japan even bargained to have the ‘comfort women’ statue removed.”
The statue he referred to is of a girl and was installed by a civic group in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in 2011 to commemorate the suffering of the “comfort women”. Japan insisted that the statue be removed, and South Korea promised to consider it.
“The agreement lacks credibility and sincerity as expressed by the Japanese side regarding what had happened,” said Julie Tang, a retired San Francisco Superior Court judge and co-founder of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, a San Franciscobased advocacy group for “comfort women” and victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
Forcing women into sex slavery by Japanese military was a serious crime but the Japanese prime minister added more injury by trying to make an apology in the agreement so that future generations don’t have to apologize, she said.
After the agreement was announced in Seoul, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Tokyo, “We must not let this problem drag on into the next generation.”
“The comfort women issue is not about state politics and diplomatic relations. It is about human rights,” said Qiu. “From this perspective, no government can stop humanitarian actions, and no political agreement should restrict future generations from learning the human tragedies of the past.”
US Congressman Mike Honda, who happens to be of Japanese descent, said he was deeply disappointed that Japan lacked the commitment to ensure they would no longer whitewash history and educate future generations.
Saying sorry and giving money is far from adequate to account for the terrible things that the Japanese army did.”