politics

S Korean World War II sex slavery victim seeks U.N. justice as time runs out

42 Comments
By KIM TONG-HYUNG

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Japan has repeatedly apologized and paid for its war crimes. Instead of victimizing itself and blaming Japan for something that happened over seventy years ago, South Korea needs to fix its issue of indoctrinating its children to hate Japan. 

This is the country where children drew pictures of Japan getting nukes, people set themselves on fire at protests and and broke into a Japanese consulate, gas stations refused to refuel Japanese cars, and a district tried to put stickers in classrooms saying “This device was made by a war criminal”. I grew up with my own parents constantly reminding me of what Japan did over seventy years ago as if it happened yesterday.

South Korea is manipulating its own children to make sure its grudge lives on. Such behavior is self-righteous, self-harming, and makes me ashamed to be Korean.

23 ( +52 / -29 )

When someone is Sexually Assaulted, Raped, Or even Sexually harassed it must be an unforgettable experience that hunts the victim for a life time.

S. Korea and Japan must recognize this horrible chapter of history and work together to put it to rest. These surviving ladies from S. Korea, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Australia and East Timor are speaking out for all the victims including the ones who paid the ultimate price while being slaved.

I hope that justice will be served so they can finally rest in peace, JUST DO IT.

-5 ( +29 / -34 )

A U.N. report from 1996 concluded that sex slaves were taken through "violence and outright coercion." A statement from Japan in 1993 acknowledged that women were taken "against their own will, through coaxing, coercion," but the nation's leaders later denied it.

That the issue has persisted to be a sore point is due in large part to this Japanese flip-flopping and the cementing of the Nippon Kaigi perspective in the LDP.

-4 ( +26 / -30 )

South Korea needs to end this historical issues with Japan. Apologies were made, compensation paid.

In East Asia, Japan is the only ally you have.

America will help yes, but America is thousands of miles away while Japan is your next door neighbor that would assist and help S. Korea if you change your attitude and stop hating Japan.

A Taiwan emergency is a Japan emergency!

It can also be a S. Korea emergency is a Japan emergency! if S. Korea becomes friendly, respects promises made and agreements signed with Japan! Stop trying to start new stupid issues!

Russia is attacking and being aggressive.

China and North Korea not far behind.

North Korea attacked you before, South Korea almost disappeared. You need Japan!

While S. Korea is obsessed with hating Japan, we are necessary and needed for South Koreas survival and overall well being!

2 ( +32 / -30 )

ReasonandWisdomNipponToday  07:25 am JST

South Korea needs to end this historical issues with Japan. Apologies were made, compensation paid.

It's not just Koreans, as the articles states, it's Philippines, China, Indonesia, Australia and East Timor as well.

Official culpability and apologies from the Japanese government have not been made (just from individuals).

-8 ( +25 / -33 )

ReasonAndWisdom

The only reason why we prop up Japan is because we feel that China and Russia are bigger threats.

the world would probably be a better place if both China and Japan were weaker.

-31 ( +11 / -42 )

I wish them well with a positive outcome for all involved. Happy days are ahead.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

The current generation ain't gonna keep humbling themselves every year to apology to SK when they enjoy insulting us so much and intentionally drum up hatred to promote their nationalism and use it for political purposes. Every time during and after a election,this process repeat itself. She can forget about getting it from us now. Because those responsible are already in their grave. She should just move on and make peace with herself. She could instead choose to let it go and enjoy life while there is time. And when her life end, at least this way she will be remember as a great and forgiving person and not as a political tool. As the bible said, changes start from within before you can demand it from others. You must lead by example to show others the way.

11 ( +29 / -18 )

@Coffee

The article is about the victim herself making a claim, not about S. Korea "indoctrinating its children to hate Japan."

I think she has every right to seek justice from the U.N.

-9 ( +23 / -32 )

FYI Teslainvestor

Panasonic started to supply lithium-ion battery cells to Tesla in 2009.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

@Coffee

I cannot roll my eyes hard enough at your comment.

Japan has repeatedly apologized and paid for its war crimes.

If Japan is truly sorry and regretful of their actions, then no amount of apologies will be enough. Germany won't hesitate to apologies for Nazi's war crimes, so why does Japan hesitate?

Instead of victimizing itself and blaming Japan for something that happened over seventy years ago

Korea isn't victimizing itself. It IS a victim. Their country was colonised. Their royal blood line murdered. Their national treasures and resources looted. Their people raped and slayed. All of this was done by the hands of Japan. Does this not make Korea a victim and Japan to be blamed????

-18 ( +24 / -42 )

Some have speculated that the Japanese government didn't need to formally apologize because of the atomic bombing of Japan.

However the number of victims taken by the Imperial army were astronomically larger than the atomic bombing.

Fact !

-13 ( +18 / -31 )

@Reasonandwisdomnippon

Stupid would be starting a war that couldn't be won !

Or thinking a country that does that is reasonable and wise.

-9 ( +11 / -20 )

I feel so sorry for Lee Yong-soo. I hope she finds closure and justice.

5 ( +20 / -15 )

CoffeeToday  07:06 am JST

Japan has repeatedly apologized and paid for its war crimes. Instead of victimizing itself and blaming Japan for something that happened over seventy years ago, South Korea needs to fix its issue of indoctrinating its children to hate Japan. 

You and Japan may think 'it's 70 years ago so let it go', but when you invade, kill, rape and destroy other nations the memories last for many generations (Putin and Russia are going to face the problem). Japan can't just sweep it under the carpet because it was a long time ago. Hopefully, the UN will be able make them sit up and notice to this fact.

0 ( +22 / -22 )

Does this not make Korea a victim and Japan to be blamed????

Something that happened over eighty years ago is not a reason to teach your children to hate. Other countries like Taiwan have moved on from WWII. It's only South Korea and to a lesser extent China that still have a grudge against Japan.

9 ( +25 / -16 )

@Kuruki

Well said.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Anyone looking for the U.N. to do anything is in for a big disappointment.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Coffee: "Japan has repeatedly apologized and paid for its war crimes."

No, it has not. It paid a pittance to quiet the issue, and gave half-hearted apologies which are not formally recognized, and always followed up by visits to Yasukuni and people, including posters on here, who say the women were willing prostitutes who were "well paid and treated" and that basically, nothing was amiss.

You know who else has admitted their crimes and resolved the issue? North Korea, according to them (same way according to Japan the have resolved this), with the abduction issue. It's done with. But I bet in that case you are not talking about government manipulation on the issue to galvanize a voting base or keep anger about the issue fresh, or tell the dying relatives it's time to move on and be quiet, and forget about history. And hey, exactly how much money do those people need in Hiroshima and Nagasaki before they realize the issue is over and they need to stop bringing it up every year? The US government says the bombings were a good thing and saved millions of lives, so why don't the history books here reflect that instead of harping on negativity and saying how bad it was. The victims need to be quiet and move on.

See how that works? Or wait... "It's different", right?

-15 ( +19 / -34 )

Korea isn't victimizing itself. It IS a victim. Their country was colonised. Their royal blood line murdered. Their national treasures and resources looted. Their people raped and slayed. All of this was done by the hands of Japan. Does this not make Korea a victim and Japan to be blamed????

Why not being a bit more consistent and balanced? Korea had also been a "victim" or target of full subjugation for its repressive neighboring dynasties, namely China and Mongolia for centuries. I've never heard Koreans address own dark (and inconvenient) historical truths or demand apology or money from China and Mongolia. Why only Japan?

The Korean kings had "gifted" lots of Korean women as slaves to Chinese emperors, which is an open secret even acknowledged by the Korean officials. If arguing that things are too old, let me note that during and after the Korean War (1950-53) the ROK government opened entertainment houses for American soldiers, not to mention, many local "comfort women" involved there.

7 ( +19 / -12 )

Morning article about WW2 sex slaves.....cue all the rightists going into a ballistic spin within minutes.

*Germany won't hesitate to apologies for Nazi's war crimes, so why does Japan hesitatate? & Korea isn't victimizing itself. It IS a victim. Their country was colonised".* 

No, you don't understand JIA went to Asia to spread culture, manners and brotherly love. Completely different from Germany.

-10 ( +12 / -22 )

Let's take a look at some of the "insincere" apologies made by evil Japanese politicians and the like:

Minister of Foreign Affairs Shiina Etsusaburo apologized to the people of South Korea on June 22, 1965.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kiichi Miyazawa apologized to the people of the Republic of Korea on August 26, 1982.

Emperor Hirohito apologized to President Chun Doo Hwan on September 6, 1984.

Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone apologized on September 7, 1984.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Nakayama apologized to the people of South Korea on April 18, 1990.

Emperor Akihito apologized in a meeting with South Korean President Roh Tae Woo on May 24, 1990.

Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, apologized in a meeting with President Roh Tae Woo on May 25, 1990.

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologized in a press conference January 1, 1992.

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologized at a speech dinner with President Roh Tae Woo on January 16, 1992.

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologized at a policy speech during a visit to South Korea on January 17, 1992.

Emperor Akihito apologized in a speech at a dinner with South Korean president, Kim Dae Jung on October 8, 1996.

*The list goes on in 2000, 2010 and 2020.

So, short of a "heartfelt and sincere" 切腹 of Emperor Naruhito, Prime Minister Kishida and his Cabinet, what is it that the Koreans want? More money, perhaps???

Go figure.

7 ( +24 / -17 )

Hang in there ladies. Keep fighting for justice

-3 ( +13 / -16 )

South Korea will not take it to the UN even if Tokyo agrees the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea signed on June 22, 1965

The 1965 Treaty Article II:

1 The High Contracting Parties confirm that the problems concerning property, rights, and interests of the two High Contracting Parties and their peoples (including juridical persons) and the claims between the High Contracting Parties and between their peoples, including those stipulated in Article IV(a) of the Peace Treaty with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, have been settled completely and finally.

In January 2005, the Korean government disclosed 1,200 pages of diplomatic documents that recorded the proceeding of the treaty. The documents, kept secret for 40 years, recorded that the Japanese government actually proposed to the Korean government to directly compensate individual victims but it was the Korean government which insisted that it would handle individual compensation to its citizens and then received the whole amount of grants on behalf of the victims

The Korean government demanded a total of 364 million dollars in compensation for the 1.03 million Koreans conscripted into the workforce and the military during the colonial period

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/2005/01/17/SKorea-discloses-sensitive-documents/38131105952315/?u3L=1

I am more surprised that the victims have not taken it up with the South Korean government who kept the money they were supposed to use to compensate individual people.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

This is not a simple case of too little too late. It is a case of downright lies and machinations by the Japanese conservatives that have suppressed the truth and fought for denying compensation. This will remain a great shame for Japan until Japan tosses the conservatives into the dustbin of history and tells the truth and compensates the victims and their survivors.

-12 ( +11 / -23 )

Here is the complete list of Japanese war apologies, not some selected ones.

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

What happened to the $8.3 million Japan paid to the 46 women?

17 ( +22 / -5 )

@Reasonandwisdomnippon

South korea doesn't need Japan to survive or for it's well being.

Are you aware of the numerous USA military bases in Asia and the Pacific and in South Korea ?

I think its only fair to point out that Japan had attacked South Korea for the sole purpose of curbing South Korea's strong growing trading relationship with China in a very sneaky underhanded way.

And it was the USA that stopped the Korean war not Japan.

Iam not sure if South Koreans will ever trust Japan again .

-16 ( +6 / -22 )

To compare the massive amounts of apologies and massive amounts of compensation that Germany has contributed for it's war crimes must make the Japanese government feel extremely embarrassed cold-hearted.

The number of victims taken by the imperial army was also millions more than the Third Reich.

My point is that if the Japanese government chooses to be more apologetic and sincere about past war crimes - there's still time to do so.

Cant undo what was done but can definitely move forward

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

And hey, exactly how much money do those people need in Hiroshima and Nagasaki before they realize the issue is over and they need to stop bringing it up every year?

Very classy of you to trivialize victims from both Korea and Hiroshima/Nagasaki with what can only be described as the most halfwitted attempt to dumb down two very complicated (and very different) subjects.

The US government says the bombings were a good thing and saved millions of lives, so why don't the history books here reflect that instead of harping on negativity and saying how bad it was. The victims need to be quiet and move on.

This seems off-topic, but since it’s still here, I’ll chime in and remind you that by today’s standard it is clearly a war crime. And if you believe that my Government’s reasoning is an acceptable standard to justify the use of nuclear weapons, then humanity as we know it is doomed.

And just fyi since your making a comparison (as asinine as it is), I’ve never heard of the Japanese government (or any Japanese for that matter) ever saying that forced prostitution in Korea was “a good thing.” Quit projecting your ignorance onto others and stop peddling nonsense.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Another cliche in the dispute is the buzz word "sincerity" as some Koreans always demand a sincere apology. But what is it all about? It reminds me of yakuza criminals saying (often in victim's disguise) "show some sincerity", "think it yourself what it really means" in order to cut a deal favorable for yakuza side. In that context, sincerity usually means more than a verball apology, something more tangible or say monetary.

Although this analogy may be offensive, tactics are surprisingly identical. The UN won't be able to deal with sincerity otherwise clearly defined. Sincerity cannot be measured, but may be sought or abused anytime and many times, whenever you feel "it's not enough". It leads to hate and harassment. It shouldn't be handled in the domain of politics or diplomacy.

Note that the last 2015 pact had been done through serious processes over time. Its nullification was then abruptly and unilaterally declared by the ROK side. Now I don't see any bit of sincerity there.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Victims have to realize two things and not confuse the two: 1) Compensation for their suffering monetarily or otherwise in some tangible form 2)Emotional need for change of heart or remorse by the descendants of the original perpetrators and this includes the government officials. The first one can be worked out through the UN but the second is going to be difficult. It's like asking a newborn in Japan to feel bad and apologize to a newborn in Sourth Korea or China or Philippines and feel remorseful about it. Time has passed and there is a real disconnect in feeling for crimes committed by previous generations and while pleading your case may stir empathy and sympathy for the tragic events, to demand the Japanese descendants to also sincerely feel remorse for a grandparents crime as if you did it yourself is a stretch. Are you demanding them to imagine them performing these crimes themselves, and then feel remorse as if you remember it as if it was your own crime? Because that's the only way to generate sincere guilt and remorse, but such a demand is also so sad even for the victim because the more you press and insist, the more the response is an equally painful reaction of "it wasn't me" "I didn't do it" by a new generation and you're left feeling the insincerity over and over. Empathy and sympathy and acknowledgement that you suffered - yes, but it is not the same as guilt and remorse. You can fight for acknowledgement and compensation but you can only heal your own heart, alone. That is what the Buddhist talk of as karma. And with karma, how you react is your karma and how others react is their karma. You can only control your own and not anyone else's no matter how close or distant and that is the real suffering.

Documenting the true historical accounts are important but again, demanding it be taught in school books will need to be worked out. Realistically, a lot happened in Japan during WWII and honestly there is a dissonance and new history is constantly being added. I agree the crimes should be written in textbooks but probably less so than other major events like Pearl Harbor and the atomic bombs or the re-writing of the constitution by MacArthur. Frankly, modern day school children just want to study to pass exams and once its done, out of sight, out of mind, they have present day problems like finding a job and starting a family to think of. I think the recent big events like the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami are already fading in the minds of people trying to survive amidst the pandemic. A college level course in woman's study where the social history of women's changes in view about abuses to women as sex objects and harassment might be a better place to bring out the historical misuse as an example. But this is again a tangible compensation, not any guarantee of an emotional one.

What happened historically is tragic but history is full of tragedy and people have suffered throughout and only the lucky few have had their stories heard and recognized. Telling the story and setting the record is important, but demanding a specific emotional reaction is different. Again, imagine looking at a newborn and saying one day when you're old enough, you will have to feel guilty about what your ancestors have done to me and mine. As a Japanese American born after WWII and never lived in Japan my entire life I still feel pressured and reactive when every December 7th, the news in America remembers Pearl Harbor Day, the Day that will live in Infamy. I wasn't born then and I had nothing to do with the war, and that is my reaction. But I know many older Americans and descendants of military service members who were hurt or killed that day don't see it that way, they don't want to see the difference.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

The only way they can get any justice is if those people who committed those terrible crimes to these ladies were brought up to court and faced trials. But they're all dead so nothing can be done. Some apology by the current JP government won't be enough for them and even if it was good enough for them, the ones pulling the strings, along with the indoctrinated to hate Japan will never let it go. Just look at the moments just before the pandemic when Japan took Korea out of their whitelist of friendly countries to export semiconductors.

What was done to these ladies was bad, really bad. But it's time to let go and move on.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

This has gone on too long. Give these women what they want.

Japan for decades won't give in on territorial disputes for useless islands; we are dealing with living people with these Korean women. Get with it Japan.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

@Kuruki

If Japan is truly sorry and regretful of their actions, then no amount of apologies will be enough.

This way of thinking is truly toxic. If no amount of apologies will be enough, then there will never be room for forgiveness and healing. There will be no moving on, and only anger and hatred will remain for eternity.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

These frail old pensioners, comfort women, are victims of their governments own foreign policy.

A carefully cultivated belligerence, a festering hatred of the Japan.

Its government, its people.

Whilst politicians continue be involved this shameful politically contrived act of rolling grandmas, wheel chair bound as means to fans the flames of historic resentment, on a Japan that values peaceful coexistence with their neighbours.

Then this poisonous policy agenda will continue.

All, at the same time cosying up to a murdering north Korean tyrant, is truly remarkable.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

It's true that many apologies have been given over the decades, and no doubt quite a few were would have been done with great remorse and sincerity ie - Emperor Akihito's; PM Hosokawa's; PM Murayama; PM Koizumi etc

Unfortunately their heartfelt words (and others), were crippled by PM Abe's numerous flip-flop denials and the actions and words of other senior right-wing members of the government.

If ever the important work and good intentions of a group of people was ever undercut, it was by Abe Inc.

You'd expect certain extreme viewpoints by members of the public, but those can be ignored.

When it's the country's leaders expressing such, well then the matter will not be resolved.

Obviously Lee Yong-soo is not seeking money or siding with a political party.

30 years of publicity - some positive, lots negative - and all of the stress associated with that, doesn't seem like the pursuit of a political agenda.

Just an old lady wanting a simple direct apology that isn't compromised by insincerity or hypocrisy.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

MarkToday  07:18 am JST

When someone is Sexually Assaulted, Raped, Or even Sexually harassed it must be an unforgettable experience that hunts the victim for a life time.

S. Korea and Japan must recognize this horrible chapter of history and work together to put it to rest. These surviving ladies from S. Korea, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Australia and East Timor are speaking out for all the victims including the ones who paid the ultimate price while being slaved.

I hope that justice will be served so they can finally rest in peace, JUST DO IT.

Rape is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, female and male. It lingers on for the rest of the survivor's life, it's like carrying a Yap coin around the neck - even if you don't know it. It affects everything in life, psychologically and subtilledly. It's destructive and can destroy.

Japan isn't fascist anymore. It's a democracy now but it needs to account for the past crimes. Tojo and his ministers got their punishment deservedly. A simple acknowledgement and apology can make a hell of a difference.

I grew up with my own parents constantly reminding me of what Japan did over seventy years ago as if it happened yesterday.

South Korea is manipulating its own children to make sure its grudge lives on. Such behavior is self-righteous, self-harming, and makes me ashamed to be Korean.

I grew up with my parents constantly using Pearl Harbor and WW2 as an excuse to hate Japanese and for that matter, everyone from the Orient. I don't believe that crap. That's stupid! That was 1941. It's 2022. When I served in the Navy we had Gadhafi causing a ruckus. I don't hate Libyans nor do I hate Arabian people at all. You hate the enemy government. not the people or their race.

Another thing to note. Since Korea is still divided, whether or even if SK and Japan do officially bury the hatchet 9as they should), do you think that stinking Communist regime of NK is going to be so forgiving? They brainwash their people with that Communism crap, what makes you think Kimbo is going to want to make up with Japan?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japan has never sincerely apology and punish the perpetrators of wartime horrible conducts, she tried to run away through times go by!

Why Japan cannot perform the compassion like Germany does?

Why she is still arrogantly reject the accusations from victims?

Many of you here said Japan has apologised and paid the victims but she has no remorse or compassion. For Japan the war was a "Gamble" she lost but to commit the gamble wasn't a wrong thing!

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

Pearl Harbor is way, way off the point but as it keeps coming up I'd like to add the following. Japanese Americans and Japanese residents were NOT interfered, like their counterparts from Washington, Oregon and California, The Governor of Hawaii warned against anti-Japanese racism and lurid rumors, which he said should be stamped out like verminous snake.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

South Korean victims are totally right,apologizing doesn't just mean to throw some money at your face and ask to forget your crimes.

This is exactly what the Japanese regime did in the last decades,rewriting their history books and omitting all the atrocities of their grandfathers.

Germany and Italy are a perfect example of two former Axis countries taking full responsibilities for their past crimes.

Japan's legendary proud and stubbornness in admitting it's fault won't allow this.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

First off, no amount of money will take away your memories. Especially 91k. Second, Japan apologized in 1945, 1965 and has been continually doing so ever since.

Here’s an idea, instead of fighting for your own greed over something that occurred over a half century ago how about you direct that energy to todays world where sex slavery is happening on the daily? Nothing can be done to fix the past, but you can help make it better so someone doesn’t experience you did. To scoff at this is to become hypocrisy and you deserve nothing.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

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