politics

Gov't official heads to Seoul for 'comfort women' talks

33 Comments

A senior Japanese official left for Seoul on Wednesday to discuss the extremely thorny issue of wartime sex slavery, in a move Tokyo hopes will lead to a diplomatic thaw.

Junichi Ihara, head of the Japanese foreign ministry's Asia and Oceania affairs bureau, is expected to tell his South Korean counterpart that Tokyo is mulling an offer of an official apology and money for the women, Kyodo News said, citing an unnamed government official.

Relations between Tokyo and Seoul are at their lowest ebb in years, mired in emotive disputes linked to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over Korea -- particularly its use of so-called "comfort women" from Korea and other Asian nations as sex slaves in wartime brothels.

But as President Barack Obama heads to both Japan and South Korea next week, there is renewed impetus for the two key U.S. allies to heal their fractured relationship, despite domestic pressures on both sides not to bend.

The comfort women issue has deeply divided the neighbors -- frustrating Washington at a time of growing regional instability, with China's military build-up snowballing and North Korea warning that it may carry out another nuclear test.

Japan has long maintained that all issues relating to the colonial period were settled under a 1965 bilateral treaty that normalised diplomatic ties with South Korea, and has rejected calls to compensate individuals, including former comfort women.

But Tokyo is now considering fresh measures including a direct apology by its ambassador to South Korea, Koro Bessho, a letter bearing the name of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and disbursement of Japanese government-funded financial aid, Kyodo said.

Japan would implement the measures after confirming with South Korea that the issue "has been completely settled," so that South Korea will never bring it up again, Kyodo said.

Japan's government made a landmark apology in 1993 to the comfort women, offering money to former sex slaves through the Asian Women's Fund, a private body set up at Tokyo's initiative in 1995 and run until 2007.

Some survivors refused the cash because it did not come directly from the government.

Repeated wavering since the apology among senior right-wing politicians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and is not sufficiently remorseful.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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Why bother. Unless its a heartfelt apology from Abe himself, I don't see the point. This makes him look like he's sending someone else over to do his job.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Doubt if Obama is expecting much from tokyo, so no hurry.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

money for the women, Kyodo News said

Which is what this background noise from south korea has been about all along.

The Japanese has already apologised and paid money before but seems the money never made it to the victims or wasn't enough.

So once the Japanese have apologised once again, and paid money once again, will SK finally put this topic to rest once and for all?

No it will drag it up again and again in years to come everytime it feels slighted by Japan, it's never going to put the issue to bed as its a nice tool for them to use everytime they want to gain political points or slag Japan.

Perhaps when the south Koreans die they can be buried only 15 cms under ground, so they can still get their hand out.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

So they hope it will lead to a diplomatic thaw huh? If Japan's position remains to dig its heels in and deny its wartime atrocities that won't solve a thing. The whole world knows what happened. It is not in dispute - except by a handful of right wing revisionist Japanese historians everyone agrees on what happened. So what is there to discuss? Confess already.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

a move Tokyo hopes will lead to a diplomatic thaw

Or, it will lead to a diplomatic war!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Tokyo is mulling an offer of an official apology and money for the women

How much money do they want if

Japan has long maintained that all issues relating to the colonial period were settled under a 1965 bilateral treaty that normalised diplomatic ties with South Korea, and has rejected calls to compensate individuals, including former comfort women.

????

Stop this victim mentality already! I'm 100% this thing wont seal whiny Koreans.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Japan would implement the measures after confirming with South Korea that the issue “has been completely settled,” so that South Korea will never bring it up again

Surely Mr Abe is not dumb enough to believe this. Time and again the ROK has accepted apologies and money only to turn around and start the bleating all over again. Its begun to feel like Groundhog Day. No more apologies and no more compensation.

So they hope it will lead to a diplomatic thaw huh? If Japan's position remains to dig its heels in and deny its wartime atrocities that won't solve a thing. The whole world knows what happened. It is not in dispute - except by a handful of right wing revisionist Japanese historians everyone agrees on what happened. So what is there to discuss? Confess already.

This sounds like a comment from someone who couldn't be bothered to read the article before dashing of the same old reply.

The article states that the Abe government is actually considering another apology and more money. This is what folks such as yourself have been demanding on this site for years now. Instead of posting something positive you just carry on with the "right wing revisionist" rabble rabble "deny" rabble rabble "confess" rabble rabble posts. Well done.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Well obviously, the problem is really the right-wingers. They're the ones that want to deny everything and pretend that atrocities never happened. And most of them are now taking the positions of LDP. And most of the bureaucrats are also right-wing and conservative. So we can see how this will go.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

budgieApr. 16, 2014 - 06:29PM JST So they hope it will lead to a diplomatic thaw huh? If Japan's position remains to dig its heels in and deny its wartime >atrocities that won't solve a thing. The whole world knows what happened.

What exactly is Japan denying budgie? Please tell us specifically.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Japan can afford to pay to comfort women and S Korea again, Japan is ready to solve issues of comfort women. This is diplomatic area, Abe does not have to nose around by going to Korea. He is PM and Junichi Ihara can handle better.on this situation better than PM.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Reconciliation is the way forward. Yes, the handful of surviving women from other nations will probably come forward as well, but it time to close this dark chapter from 70 years ago.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What a bunch of crock.

The Japanese government DID try to do its part with the comfort women's fund, and many comfort women did in fact accept the apology and reparations offered by that fund.

Yet the anti Japanese brigade and nationalists thought the comfort women fund was not legitimate and convinced many comfort women not to accept it.

So what the heck good is this going to do?

No matter what the Japanese government does or says, the anti Japan nationalists will NEVER accept it. Even if this deal goes through, the anti Japan crowd will say it's too little, too late. Insincere. No legitimate since no Japanese official begged and groveled on his knees for forgiveness.

You just watch, the anti Japan nationalists are SO easy to predict.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

No matter what the Japanese government does or says, the anti Japan nationalists will NEVER accept it.

That's the whole point, it was NOT the Japanese government, it was the Asian women's fund which is a separate entity from the Japanese government.

And lol at anti Japanese nationalist blah blah blah. If saying that Japan should do more for the comfort women is anti Japanese nationalism, then the entire world would be anti Japanese nationalists.

Only in Japan.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

You are absolutely wrong Thomas Anderson.

The Japanese government, by cabinet action in August of 1995, took full responsibility for all costs involved with the Asian Women's Fund. This included operational costs as well as the funds for the comfort women themselves. So in fact, the Japanese government had their full hands on the AWF. The Korean nationalists felt the AWF was insincere since the Japanese government was involved.

And do you know WHY the AWF was formed in the first place? The AWF was formed because trying to directly compensate individual comfort women would have been a direct violation of the 1965 between South Korea and Japan. And that treaty was hidden by the South Korean government until 2005, when it was revealed that Japan did in fact pay millions in reparations, and offered to INDIVIDUALLY compensate South Korean victims of Japan's past aggression. The South Korean government not only refused, but used a lot of the money Japan gave to them not to compensate victims, but to fund their own public works projects.

So the claim that the Japanese government "never" apologized or paid reparations is absolutely and insultingly false.

How ironic that the very things the anti Japan crowd accuses Japanese of doing, they themselves do.

And hidingout is absolutely correct. You'd figure the anti Japan crowd would have a conciliatory tone upon this news. Yet all we are going to see from them is continual negativity and hatred. No matter what the Japanese government does, it never will be enough for them.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@Thomas Anderson: For your info, this is talks between representatives of Korean Govt and Japanese Govt. Asian women;s fund is not representing either of Govt. JAPAN is willing to apologize (maybe) and pay for Korean victims, comfort woman, with Japanese Govt money.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

oldman_13

The Japanese government, by cabinet action in August of 1995, took full responsibility for all costs involved with the Asian Women's Fund. This included operational costs as well as the funds for the comfort women themselves. So in fact, the Japanese government had their full hands on the AWF. The Korean nationalists felt the AWF was insincere since the Japanese government was involved.

Sorry, that's 100% wrong.

¥565m ($4.7m) was raised in donations from the Japanese people, and given to 285 comfort women from Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, each of whom received about 2m yen ($16,700)

¥770m ($6.5m) in taxpayers' money was provided to pay for medical fees for these women, and for 79 other women from the Netherlands

¥370 million ($3.1m) was spent building medical facilities and old peoples' homes in Indonesia, rather than compensating individuals there, and the rest was used for the fund's running costs and other smaller projects.

If you going to accuse somebody wrong, then at least get the facts right. I'm so sick of the right-wing trolls that nobody in the world would ever support. Ever.

toshiko

JAPAN is willing to apologize (maybe) and pay for Korean victims, comfort woman, with Japanese Govt money.

I sure hope so, but I get the feeling that if Japan apologized, then the right-wingers would cause mass hysteria and a riot.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

As a Japanese, I just don't understand why Emperor Showa failed to apologize to the Korean women. That would have solved the issue decades ago.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Lest we forget...

The Korean president/dictator who was in power back in 1965, when the issue was supposedly resolved, was the FATHER of the current leader. He made the decision to take the money from Japan and use it to pay for infrastructure projects rather than distributing it to the victims. Ironically, he was also a member of the very same Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2..

It seems that Korea is also having trouble dealing with the myriad "inconvenient truths" surrounding this issue.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

A well known senator from New York once said that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Please tell me of ANY country, including US, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, China, Taiwan, Korea, France, etc...that will agree with Japan's take on history??? Is Japan somehow the only one who sees history correctly...I'm not just talking about the comfort women issue, which I agree is one of the largest human trafficking events in history, but EVERYTHING related to and leading up to WWII. Let me provide a newsflash, the great nation of Japan WAS NOT THE VICTIM...Japan was not the great liberators of Asia, and for every country they colonized, they took more than they gave. Even Germany, who was one of the greatest perpetrators of aggression during WWII, have and continue to make UNEQUIVOCAL, CONSISTENT, and ENDURING apologies for their actions...such is the behavior and mindset of countries that wish to be leaders and move on for a brighter future with those they have wronged.

I recently watched an interview of one of the Dutch victims of the Japanese army on Youtube...You can google Dutch comfort women, interview...pretty shocking and sad. Taken from their families, forced to sign contracts in a language they didn't understand and then forced to serve in a brothel...the Japanese could easily argue that these Dutch women and girls were prostitutes since they had signed contracts and "served" in a nice plantation house that was turned into a brothel...but they remain very silent on the issue.

I have read the comments from those that feel that the victims of Japan's past are whiners and prostitutes and only want money. How sad. I do not believe that the majority of Japan believe this, but unfortunately enough people do and they seem to get the most press. The vast majority of Japanese are wonderful people and I do believe they have much to contribute to the world. My hope is that more of their voices are heard, so Japan can take on a true leadership role in Asia and do so by example.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Thomas AndersonApr. 16, 2014 - 11:13PM JST ¥565m ($4.7m) was raised in donations from the Japanese people, and given to 285 comfort women from Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, each of whom received about 2m yen ($16,700) ¥770m ($6.5m) in taxpayers' money was provided to pay for medical fees for these women, and for 79 other women from the Netherlands ¥370 million ($3.1m) was spent building medical facilities and old peoples' homes in Indonesia, rather than compensating individuals there, and the rest was used for the fund's running costs and other smaller projects. If you going to accuse somebody wrong, then at least get the facts right. I'm so sick of the right-wing trolls that nobody >in the world would ever support. Ever.

Wow. 9.6M was paid by the J-govt and 4.7m was from donations. Yea you really proved him wrong. If you're so sick of "right wing trolls" don't post here. Everyone is sick of J-hating trolls too.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This included operational costs as well as the funds for the comfort women themselves. So in fact, the Japanese government had their full hands on the AWF.

That's obviously not correct.

Wow. 9.6M was paid by the J-govt and 4.7m was from donations. Yea you really proved him wrong. If you're so sick of "right wing trolls" don't post here. Everyone is sick of J-hating trolls too.

Ossan, you think everyone is "J-hating". There is no other country than Japan that are trying to sweep the comfort women issue under the rug.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Just don't say anything stupid....

In the meantime, I don't see Japan trying to sweep anything under the rug. Japan has paid out cash, apologized, made loans to SK, lots of things. Many Japanese consider the issue closed. It might have been except the right wing Japanese pols keep sticking the feet in their mouths and SK loves to bring the issue up at every opportunity.

So talking about the situation is the right thing to do. But the sooner everybody stops being stupid the better.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But why money? Why does Japan have to offee money? They didnt cut their hands

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Can't you just be quiet, everyone, and accept this as very good news?! I get so tired of all this anti-Korean nonsense every time I make the mistake to read some comments here. Seriously. Stop your dim-wit analyzing. 2014 is not 1995 is not 1965 is not 1945. Pak Geun-hye is not her father and Koreans are not a bunch of Japan-hating rednecks. Most people on both sides are tired just want this case closed. But I get the impression some super gaijin here always want to prove how literate and pro-Japanese they are.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, August 4 1993 ....

The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.......

We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history....

There is no need to add or take away from this statement and apology..

This is a meeting that has been described as a discussion with the Junichi Ihara, head of the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asia and Oceania affairs bureau....

Ambassador Koro Bessho needs to make sure that this statement and apology is clearly understood.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ Thomas Anderson,

It's not just the "right wingers" and I refuse to allow every discussion thread to the same drum beat, one that especially the pro-China/CPC troll army is beating.

It's not just "right wingers" who are questioning this issue, not is it a specifically "right wing" position to do so.

Historical objectivity, as best as we can manage with available evidence, sits on neither wing.

With respect to the other topic, "Foreign correspondents 'blindly swallowing' anti-Japanese propaganda", it often seems to be that the AFP are - for whatever reason and I'd like to know what it is and why - leading proponents of the propagandic view (i.e. that all war time prostitutes were "slaves", rather than just paid and a large proportion doing so voluntarily; and that there was 200,000 based on Yoshiaki Yoshimi highest but yet to be proven estimate).

I'd like to know the specific proportions before I took a position on this dispute. It strikes me that the Korean and Western/US side is lack in such specifics, that their position is based on exaggerating a few cases, many of which have been disproven or are questionable.

Bear in mind, when the original settlement was agreed, the Japanese government wanted to compensate individuals directly and it was the Korean dictatorship which refused demanding it all go to them, most of which was spent on building up the national infrastructure, we are told.

We will ever hear of what new findings the Korean government has?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

We already apologized and paid you money + We didn't do anything wrong the women were volunteer prostitutes! = FAIL

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Officially Japan's colonial rule began from 1910 but actual invasion occurred many years prior to it. In late 1895 Korean Empress Myeonsung was assasinated and her corpse was sexually molested then burned in to crisp outside the Royal Court... Miura Goro who ordered the assasination was later acquitted in Japanese court for insufficient evidence and this is exactly the same type of injustice ABE tried to pull with the re-investigation claiming insufficient evidence with with comfort women cases. Luckily this foul attempt was strongly challenged by Korea and U.S. criticizing ABE's belligerent policy and now he has no choice but to act with some restraint but that will probably change again in the near future.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

No matter what Japan says or does, this issue will not go away until well after the last surviving victim passes. We hear about this so often, I don't even bother to read the article anymore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Time and again the ROK has accepted apologies and money only to turn around and start the bleating all over again. Its begun to feel like Groundhog Day.

@hidingout - Yes Japan has apologised. Yes Japan has paid compensation.

But I don't know on what evidence you say Japan has apologised and paid compensation 'time and time again'. The only apology that specifically apologised to the comfort women was the 1993 Kono Statement, which has been the subject of debate as there were calls within the Japanese government to revise or rescind the apology. Japan decided to let it stand, but damage is already done that it was even considered. How often do you see other countries consider revising a 20 year old apology?

You fail to mention the countless statements of denial by numerous Japanese politicians and media personnel which thrust the comfort women issue back into the spotlight since 2007. If you leave your staunch Japanese supporter stance aside, I think you will see Japan has done plenty of things to infuriate the survivors of comfort women and their supporters. But I'm sure you disagree, as you seem to only highlight the gestures of goodwill from Japan and discount the gestures that destroyed the same goodwill.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Surely Mr Abe is not dumb enough to believe this. Time and again the ROK has accepted apologies and money only to turn around and start the bleating all over again. Its begun to feel like Groundhog Day. No more apologies and no more compensation.

Pure truth and great comment which should end all discussions on this matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thks will never end many people dedicate their lives to hate someone. They have an agenda. When this is finished they will engage another topic like textbooks or takeshimadokdo or anything that fis their way of life.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Tokyo is mulling an offer of an official apology and money for the women

...Wait, AGAIN?! This is unbelievable...

Japan would implement the measures after confirming with South Korea that the issue “has been completely settled,” so that South Korea will never bring it up again, Kyodo said.

Pfft, fat chance. As soon as the Korean and Chinese government needs another scapegoat/distraction for their corruption and shortcomings, we'll be sure to see this kind of article again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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