Japan Can’t Wash “Comfort Women” Out of Hair
The "comfort women" is an historical black scar on the face of Japan and the feud has not been washed out despite diplomatic efforts and Japan’s political normalization with South Korea since 1965. The issue stays alive as a bitter memory and hurts the feelings of Japan’s number of neighbors. The issue often erupts and spoils goodwill created between Japan and its eastern neighbors. Japan’s relations with many East Asian nations often bogged down on historical issues – something a very peculiar situation than other regions. There always remains an undercurrent of past incidents that are buried long ago through diplomatic and political efforts but un-surfaced time and again. The recycle continues. This also undermines the level of economic achievements made between Japan and several of East Asian countries. Relations have never remained tranquil between Japan and the Republic South Korea. They have deep-rooted historical differences. Japan was an imperial power colonizing Korea between the two countries. Recently, harsh diplomatic words were exchanged and actions were taken by both sides. Japan has its own logic of dealing a number of historical, territorial, and diplomatic issues with South Korea. The former has its own way of dealing with Japan.
The Comfort Women
During wars powerful nations often committed many crimes. These included sexual crimes. On the forefront of these sexual crimes was imperial Japan. The “comfort women” is the latest heated feud erupted in the South Korean capital of Seoul. Bronze statues of comfort women have been erected in Seoul in December 2011 and Busan in December 2016 in front of the Japanese diplomatic missions, reminding Japanese about sexual atrocities passed onto the unfortunate slave Korean women, kept by Japanese imperial army during wars to appease Japanese soldiers. These women are known as “ianfu” (in Japanese meaning ‘comfort women’), ‘’halmoni’’, (in Korean) ‘’grandmothers’’ a euphemism for innocent women provided forced sex to Japanese soldiers and worked in brothels in Japan and other places during wars for Japanese army. The comfort women brought in from Korean Peninsula as it was not divided then and was under Japan’s control. Therefore, women from North Korea were also systematically molested by force by Japanese soldiers. This provides a common ground to arch rivals, the two Koreas, to stand up for the same cause against Japan together. The issue is a point of divide between South Korea and Japan but it could The comfort women also brought in from China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere in Japanese occupied territories and all together they ranged up to 410,000. It is estimated that half of those comfort women the number was exaggerated. Many of comfort women died of forced abortions, sexual diseases, physical beatings, and tortures in army camps. institutionalized the brothel system of comfort women at large comfort women were a gift for their national service. This attracted more young Japanese to join the army. Comfort women were not prostitutes because they did not receive any money for the sex service they offered but kept as slave worse than caged animals. Comfort women were sent to other imperial soldiers. The centuries old dignity of Asian women was molested and slurred by imperial Japanese forces. The full contents of the issue was unsurfaced in 1987 but Japan continuously denied all such claims for long. The issue was brought to light by researchers and Japan admitted that erupted in the 1990s in South Korea. Then Japan offered an apology in 1993 but the issue did not resolve. Japan, however, argued that the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 solved all such issues but the governments in South Korea, China, and the Philippines asked for the settlement of the issue.
Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken from Penang by the Japanese to work as ‘comfort girls’ for the troops. Courtesy: Photo by Lemon A E (Sergeant), No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Wikipedia Commons.