South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang Photo: REUTERS file
politics

Japan protests over S Korean lawmaker's remarks on emperor

34 Comments

Japan said on Tuesday it had lodged a complaint with Seoul and demanded an apology after a South Korean lawmaker said the Japanese emperor should apologize over the issue of "comfort women" who were used in military brothels.

Relations between Japan and South Korea, both U.S. allies, have soured because of an intensifying row over their wartime history. That includes Japan's 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula and its use of "comfort women", Japan's euphemism for women, many of them Korean, forced to work in its wartime brothels.

South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang said in an interview with Bloomberg last week Japanese Emperor Akihito, "as the son of the main culprit of war crimes", should apologize to women forced to work in Japan's military brothels before he steps down at the end of April.

That would be a sign that Tokyo wanted to end the prolonged dispute, Moon said.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday that Moon's comments were"extremely regrettable".

"We strongly protested as his remarks have absolutely inappropriate content and are extremely regrettable," Suga said. "At the same time, we demanded an apology and withdrawal of his remarks."

Relations between the two East Asia neighbors have also deteriorated since South Korea's top court ruled last year in favor of South Koreans seeking compensation from Japanese firms for wartime forced labour.

South Korea also complained after a Japanese patrol aircraft made what Seoul described as an "intimidating" pass over one of its warships last month, adding to the tension between the two.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

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South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang said in an interview with Bloomberg last week Japanese Emperor Akihito, "as the son of the main culprit of war crimes", should apologize to women forced to work in Japan's military brothels before he steps down at the end of April..

Even one of most powerful person during occupation, General MacArthur never said anything in public about emperor but time changes I guess.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

I am beginning to wonder if South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang isn't just an impertinent attention seeker.

Does Moon Hee-sang really warrant or deserve a response? Perhaps a more appropriate course of action would have been to just ignore Moon Hee-sang. What is Moon Hee-sang relevance?

1 ( +10 / -9 )

I really don't know why Japan Today bothers to post this story. Moon and Kono are just two grumpy old men. Ignore them. If the Emperor apologised for Japan's war crimes, it would certainly ease the tension, but if he did so because he was told to, it would have no meaning whatsoever.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

Japan: just ignore it. You keep up with the tit for tat, and it's never ending.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Did the Japanese government ever wondered why this issue always comes back?

For sure I honestly believe that the emperor has made many efforts to apologise for the war atrocities committed by the EJA. Unfortunately each time these efforts have been countered by Abe making stupid remarks and trying to whitewash the crimes of his grandfather.

So NO, I do not think the emperor should apologise... but it should be Abe san... not likely though...

Germany handled their past so much better by troughly and sincerely apologizing and most of all...acting accordingly pasing laws that make it a crime to deny the war crimes...

And is that not what the Japanese government is exactly doing... denying historical facts, re-writing history and glorifying war criminals in yasukuni shrine... ?

Maybe here lays the answer to the question why this issue keeps coming back...

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

That would be a sign that Tokyo wanted to end the prolonged dispute, Moon said.

Seriously? How can you say this with a straight face when you went back on the contract which literally said everything is settled now and forever.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Moon told that Bloomberg did a fake report, which itself turned out to be fake.

https://twitter.com/tictoc/status/1095208412160364544

He probably felt that he went way out of line.

But once he was accused by many Japanese politician, he started to told that the Japanese have not appologized.

Again it's fake.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan#1990s

(watch : May.24 1990)

Every single comment is fake.

Korean (or Moon) just want to see below done by Tenno-Heika.

http://japan.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/32690.html

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Japanese Emperor Akihito, "as the son of the main culprit of war crimes", should apologize to women

“Son of the main culprit” sounds like an expletive.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

How predictable, both sides trapped in the past...

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I propose an idea that intellectual JT posters stop stereotyping.

Unfortunately each time these efforts have been countered by Abe making stupid remarks and trying to whitewash the crimes of his grandfather.

What remarks exactly made by Abe Shinzo do you point at as ones countering the efforts made or whitewashing the crimes of his grandfather?

Germany handled their past so much better by troughly and sincerely apologizing and most of all...acting accordingly pasing laws that make it a crime to deny the war crimes...

Oh Yes? Did Germany made official apology to Ex-German Colonies in Africa? paid reparations?

Are you one of those who equates Comfort women issues with Holocaust?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Korean bargaining technique

1.Intimidate opponent with strong words.

2.Increase understanding by appealing to people around you.

3.Ignoratio elenchi. And try to stand advantage.

【Most important concept to understand】

They lies like breathes.

It implies that they lies both easily and often.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Japan - be the grown up. The best way to stop temper tantrums by another is to just ignore them and not play with them until they've thought about what they had done.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Japan has tried for the last several decades to pay compensation be the bigger person, apologies multiple times, which only made things much worse. All this proposals have been tried and only made Korea more furious and angry.

Want better relations with Korea? Stop being their punching bag, personal ATM, personal apology machine. Being played for a fool and the world is watching, Russians are watching to our weak response to Korea, why would they ever give back anything?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

I think he wants Japan to cut diplomatic relations with SK.  His government can not cut it from SK because there would be backlashes from its people and USA.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

So has anyone asked the Emperor about making an apology, or, anyway, saying something about the horror the Japanese occupation did to Korea (which is now divided thanks to Japanese colonialism)?

I think he might. He might make whatever statement he wants in a forceful but gracious way that at least would be respected by all concerned, except, maybe, the right-wing sound truck people.

Abe did not invite the Imperial Family to the 150th anniversary because, it was said in the press, the Emperor would talk about the dark side of Meiji, which includes the occupation of Korea.

The Emperor cannot be candid with his opinions in a situation like this without consent. I would like him to say something, as would, I believe, a lot of other people.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

They are angry and demand apology for being asked to apologize? They think asking for an apology is an insult? What about the THOUSANDS of insulting remarks by high-ranking Japanese politicians against Koreans? What about J-Politicians calling Korean CM ''prostitutes''? Is that not an insult? Who should apologize for that? Not for the war crimes, but just for insulting them? What about key politicians like Hashimoto saying Korean comfort women were needed prostitutes? Shouldn't he apologize for that? What about J-Pol. saying the Koreans who fought for independence are 'war criminals'', shouldn't they apologize for insulting Koreans? What other J-pol. saying ''Koreans are naturally liars'', shouldn't they have to apologize now? I could go on and on of thousands and thousands of statements that insult the Korean nation, and they now they think it is insulting for them to be asked to apologize? No matter how hard i try, i could never comprehend the mindset these people have. The concept of self-reflection is utterlly alien to them.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

 What about J-Politicians calling Korean CM ''prostitutes''? Is that not an insult?

Calling them prostitutes was seemed impolite, that's why Japan called them comfort women.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

good for him!

It's about time Japan stood up to these South Korean nationalist bullies and their blind supporters!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Why doesn't the Japanese government simply hire a car to run past the South Korean Embassy multiple times daily for a month (or more if that's what it takes) and blast a verbatim repeat of every past apology? Then end it with: We apologized for the actions of previous governments. We also paid compensation. But again, we apologize and in accordance with your desires will continuously do so.

They'd probably be asked to stop apologizing. Just sayin'....

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The current Emperor has already apologized. The PM has apologized. South Korea signed an agreement in 2015 settling this issue permanently". Japan paid South Korea per that agreement but that money still has not been given to the surviving CWs. Same as the money Japan paid in 1965. Yet all South Korea can do is to keep repeating the same demand, completely ignoring the fact that Japan has accommodated them.

The worst part is the western media swallows this South Korean hoax and perpetuates it. Makes for a good copy, the never ending hate. So many in the west have been brainwashed by complete falsehood, such as believing that Imperial Japan "invaded" Korea along with the rest of Asia in WWII. Korea was annexed legally in 1910 and over 250,000 Korean men served willingly in the Imperial Japanese military, and these Korean men, invaded other Asian countries, abused Allied POWs to the extent that many were tried and convicted as War Criminals, made use of Comfort Stations even paying a discount rate. Some even believe the totally ridiculous claim that Japan, which was totally destroyed in 1945 somehow was responsible for the separation of South and North Korea afterwards. Only the USSR and US were players in Korea after 1945.

As for the J-haters who suggest Japan should "ignore" South Korean issues like this idiot Moon, they are simply advancing the South Korean false propaganda. Japan has failed to stand up and challenge this South Korean anti-Japan nonsense for far too long. They have sold the world on a narrative which even South Korean scholars have spoken up against, only to be persecuted in South Korea. Japan needs to stand up to and challenge every falsehood that comes out of that untrustworthy country.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

BertieWoosterFeb. 12  11:47 pm JST

https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/asia/article/2157956/comfort-women-and-japans-war-history-abes-historical

What is it with opinion column by one of the most notorious Anti-Japan agitator who started spitting around his hate cause his weekly column at Japan Times now cut-off ? Even in this link, he seems trying to mislead Chinese readers, probably intentionally

For example....

Yohei Kono, the chief cabinet secretary, affirmed that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc, and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.

Kono himself clearly answered at direct interview by Sankei, by mentioning, "at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.", he meant the case of Dutch East India and not about Korean Peninsula. Abe's statement later "there were no such evidence found out for forcible recruitment by Japanese military on the peninsula" does not contradict at all nor countering any part of his statement. And What happened later on? We all ended up with finding out about how poorly Kono statement was prepared trusting too much on information provided only by the other side.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This guy is not, as far as I can see, a member of the SK government, so is probably just a stupid loudmouth. He isn't worth worrying about. Rather than demand an apology, and thus prolong the dispute if this is not forthcoming, the best solution is just to slap him down and then ignore him.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Here some Japanese mention monetary issues, but remember that money is an optional and secondary issue. Offering money without apology is just blatant. That was why S. Koreans and most survived comfort women opposed the 1965 treaty and the 2015 agreement. Nowadays S. Korea is a rich country, no longer in desperate need of money. For example, S. Koreans donated a total of $46 million to Japan for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami: https://thediplomat.com/2011/04/post-earthquake-japan-korea-ties/ . Even a Korean Japanese, Masayoshi Son, alone donated 10 billion yen at that time.

Thus, a formal apology from the Japanese head of state, who can officially represent a nation called Japan, is should be the first step, but he or his father have never apologized to Koreans regarding various atrocities committed during the WWII, not to mention the comfort women issue. I know nobody teaches or mentions this fact in Japanese schools.

His latest statement regarding the atrocities during the WWII was "痛惜の念" (deep sorrow) made while visiting S. Korea in 1990 just after his inauguration, which sounded to Koreans as a derision rather than an apology. Why is it so difficult for him to apologize straightforwardly? Because of the political pressure from the right-wing groups?

In the case of Japan, prime ministers can not represent Japan as a nation. Only the current head of state, Akihito, can represent Japan. Maybe, the burden will handed over to his son.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_heads_of_state_and_government

Just one sentence of sincere apology from the Japanese head of state will solve those problems that persisted for more than 70 years between the two countries all at once. It does not require even 1 yen. Why is it so difficult in Japan?

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

OssanAmerica:

And China. Without China, Korea may have been united under a us-backed capitalist dictator...until the late 80s.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Simply ask S Korea for a refund for the monies already paid years ago, and then the Emperor can issue a fresh apology. Problem solved, right S Korea?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

juminRheeToday  02:25 am JST

OssanAmerica:

And China. Without China, Korea may have been united under a us-backed capitalist dictator...until the late 80s.

Korea was divided because of the USSR and US. China became a player only when the Korean War started, which was a year after China (PRC) was established.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What the hell is the problem? Right or wrong if an apology is wanted what harm does it do to give one? Humans are such idiots.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

"Only the USSR and US were players in Korea after 1945."

My apologies, I thought you meant after 1945 as being after 1945 in general ;)=

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bill AdamsToday 01:31 am JST

This guy is not, as far as I can see, a member of the SK government, 

He is the Speaker of the House, that is the head of the legislative branch of South Korean Government.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Kono himself clearly answered at direct interview by Sankei, by mentioning, "at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.", he meant the case of Dutch East India and not about Korean Peninsula. Abe's statement later "there were no such evidence found out for forcible recruitment by Japanese military on the peninsula" does not contradict at all nor countering any part of his statement. And What happened later on? We all ended up with finding out about how poorly Kono statement was prepared trusting too much on information provided only by the other side.

Just in case, for those who didn't know Kono's excuse about referring to involvement of Japanese administrative/military

河野氏「今申し上げたように談話それ自体は、資料や文章は、あるものだけを書いた。談話の中には強制という言葉は入っていない。しかし、実際は腕をつかんで引きずったり、胸ぐらを引きずっていったという強制連行というものもあった。どこにあったかというと、例えば、一番はっきりしていたのはオランダ人(の例だ)。オランダ人を慰安婦として連れて行き、慰安婦にしちゃったということは裁判をやって本人や証人が出てきて、判決が出て、明らかに強制連行されたという事実がはあった。

こういう事実があるのに、強制連行はなかったとはいえない。もし、ありませんでしたといったら、オランダ政府はおかしいといって怒る。オランダの国民の中に強制的に連れて行かれて、慰安婦にされた女性が現にいる。裁判の状況見てもはっきりしている。インドネシアでもそういうことがある。強制連行がありませんでしたとはいえない。

ただ、談話の中には韓国に特化した部分を考えると。そこには、文書がないから、総じて、本人の意思に反して連れて行かれたというふうにしか書いていない。

https://www.sankei.com/politics/news/150814/plt1508140009-n4.html

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Apologizing to korea isn't gonna change what happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan

Sorry doesn’t cut it.

Keep apologizing for 1000 years? 10000 years?100000 years? 1000000  years?

Or 100 million years?

to continue to apologize?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@IloveCoffeeFeb. 12 10:48 pm JST

What about J-Politicians calling Korean CM ''prostitutes''? Is that not an insult?

Whether they are is a question of fact. Given a sincere belief that the average Korean "comfort woman" entered the relationship in accordance to a work agreement without coercion from the State, it is less an insult than an assertion of belief, which may or may not be a fact.

What about J-Pol. saying the Koreans who fought for independence are 'war criminals'', shouldn't they apologize for insulting Koreans?

Depending on the means they used in "fighting for independence", they may well be. Even a legally questionable or illegal (in terms of international law) annexation does not mean carte blanche in choice of means to "fight for independence" (see Palestine). The circle gets even smaller if you start with the idea it is legal.

What other J-pol. saying ''Koreans are naturally liars'', shouldn't they have to apologize now?

If you accept the premises, that is to say, you (for example) accept the premise that comfort women are prostitutes. When the South Koreans insist they are not, what can you logically call them but "natural liars"?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What Mr. Moon said is very made sense! He has a clear vision to speak out the role of Japanese emperor's crime during WW2!  Why Japan cannot tolerate someone criticise the Japanese monarch ? If the previous emperor has done wrong, his son has the obligation to apology for his father! And for the japabese Royal, this is a good thing for them get out of a notorious nighmare that haunted them since 1945!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

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