Korean and Japanese Governments Finally Reach an Agreement Regarding the Comfort Women

Since the Abe-Park began in 2013, there have been many frustrations between the Japanese and South Korean governments over consistent failures to improve on the Korean comfort women issue. The main issue there has been the Japanese governments’ denial of their responsibility in their role for luring and using girls and women for sexual services to the Japanese military. The frustrations have been leaking into other issues between the two countries.

However, on December 28, 2016, Park Geunhye and Abe Shinzo unexpectedly cut a deal on the comfort women issue which opened the door way to one round after another of consultations, media investigation, testimonies and intense suspicion between the two countries. President Geunhye tried to make a condition to re-normalizing Korea’s relationship with Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo, on the contrary just got even more flustered over the inability to move past the issue.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio claimed that Prime Minister Shinzo extended heartfelt apologies about the suffering and injuries of the Korean comfort women. Japan was expected to build a supporting foundation for the comfort women with a funding of 1 billion yen (or approximately $8 million). The two countries made the agreement that the settlement is irreversible as long as Japan keeps up its part of the bargain and the two countries don’t publicly criticize eachother within the international community. There is also some acknowledged concern over a statue standing in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul that’s meant to honor the comfort women.

According to the testimonies in the Korean Realmeter, the deal was initially opposed by over half and supported by 43 percent of Koreans and opposed by 19 percent and supported by 63 percent in Japan.

Initially, Prime Minister Shinzo was reported to harbor doubts about the whether the comfort women claim was valid. He reported insisted that all of the legal claims were settled back in 1965 during the original normalization agreement between Japan and Korea. President Park has been praised for her bravery in seeking a public solution for such a difficult issue.

However, the only way that the Park administration will truly succeed in winning is if it receives support in Japan in that they must wire rapid funding for the foundation. Also, Prime Minister Shinto’s administration will basically have to censor the voices of those who oppose the deal.

There are also two other challenges. The first is the issue that the statue could be forcibly removed. However, even legal support for doing so would be incredibly thin. It is predicted that the only way that support for it will grow is if the funding for the support foundation goes in even more rapidly. The second is gaining support for the agreement from the comfort women themselves. Since the agreements were made in secrecy, the comfort women weren’t initially informed of them. They feel like they’ve been victimized in a second way since they had no input in it. As a result, the first logical step would be to allow the comfort women to see the foundation as theirs rather than as and end-all political move between the Korean and Japanese governments.

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