Anger Over Korean Revisions To 1993 Comfort Women Statement

Kono statement was collaborative effort between Japan and Korea

The front page of the Sankei Shimbun on January 1, 2014. Headline reads as below.

On New Year’s day, the Sankei Shimbun published a provocative article claiming that the 1993 Kono Statement, in which then cabinet secretary Kōno Yōhei acknowledged Japanese government involvement in recruiting comfort women, was in fact the consequence of a collaborative effort between the Japanese and South Korean governments.

This has brought the internet right-wing out in force, overjoyed at the idea that the Kōno Statement may now be revised since it was not single-handedly authored by Japanese politicians, but included input from South Korean diplomats. Although many seem to claim that this new evidence of collaborative work on the statement is highly controversial, in practice no government would draft such a sensitive statement without discussion with the other nation involved.

Still, this hasn’t stopped netizens from insisting that the statement now be repealed.

From Sankei Shimbun:

Kōno Statement: Evidence From Those Involved That Statement Was Japan-South Korea “Collaboration”, Revised After Requests

 ■ Statement Was Adjusted From The Draft Stage

It was understood on December 31 that the “Statement By Chief Cabinet Secretary Kōno Yōhei” [Kōno Statement] given in 1993, which acknowledged the forced recruitment of comfort women, cited the South Korean side from the early stages of the draft, and revised the statement in accordance with suggestions from South Korea. Therefore the Kōno Statement was in fact a collaboration between Japan and Korea. The government at the time explained that they had warned the Korean side of the content of the statement immediately before the announcement, but in fact from the acknowledgement of the forced recruitment right through to the details of the statement, the statement was made to reflect the will of South Korea, thus exposing the deceptive nature of the statement.

Those involved in government at the time the Kōno Statement was made testified as to the details. Both the Japanese and South Korean governments were carefully reconciling everything from the content, phrasing, and even the expression in the statement right up until its announcement.

According to evidence from those involved, between July 26 and July 30 of 1993, after interviews of 16 former comfort women were carried out in South Korea, the Japanese government immediately passed a draft of the statement to the South Korean Embassy in Japan and asked for consent. The South Korean side responded that “they wished for partial revisions” and requested revisions in approximately 10 places.

In the draft, the Korean side asked that a part which read “The recruitment of comfort women was carried out by private recruiters on the will of the military” have the term “will” changed to “instruction” to make the forced nature of recruitment clear. The Japanese side rebuffed that since there “was no proof that the military had instructed them”, the term “appeal”, which expresses a strong anticipation, was as far as they were willing to go. The Korean side then suggested that “request”, which implies that “they were strongly requested, and necessary”, and it was this expression that was ultimately adopted in the statement.

In other places, too, the expression “the will of military officials” was rewritten to read “the request of military officials”. The South Korean side also suggested that part of the draft which had said that “we offer our sincere apologies” to the comfort women, have the word “remorse” added, and this was incorporated into the statement.

There were also places in the draft where revisions were not responded to. The South Korean side had requested in the sentence “there were many examples of (Comfort women) being recruited against their will” that “there were many examples” be deleted. Since this would imply that all recruitment had been forced, the Japanese side rejected the revision.

By August 2, 1993, when the Kōno Statement was virtually finished, the government sent the draft text to South Korean cabinet ministers. While the cabinet generally approved of the statement, they apparently insisted that “For the South Korean people, it is unacceptable to give the impression that some women became comfort women of their own accord”.

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


This is an outrageous story.


Kōno really is a traitor to this country!


The Kōno Statement is criminal — it’s the falsification of an official document.


Please officially announce this to the Koreans, too. Because it’s a nation of liars who still haven’t apologised for the ammunition issue. I guess they won’t even attempt to publicly announce any evidence that is disadvantageous to the government.


Wow, they’re doing a good job of living without any sense of shame.


I’m watching this live on TV right now, and the South Korean assistant professor has come to look absurd.


Don’t care what happens to that country.


Isn’t it now clear that due to the fact that Koreans were involved that the Kōno statement was not a statement on the part of the Japanese?
Would be fine if we just ripped it up and discarded it.


The fact that they distorted the facts to build friendly relations with other countries means that now it harms the generations who have no connection to that past. I wonder what Kōno and the cabinet of the time think of the current situation.

Comments from Twitter:


This is awful wwww Well, then, shall we just repeal it? w


Just as I thought…


The point is that this man [Kōno] sold out Japan and the Japanese people.


It really pisses me off when this kind of news just comes out like this (# ゜Д゜) It’s because of stuff like this that I have no trust in the state secrecy law.


Such an idiotic undertaking. I can’t believe it.


Kōno Yōhei, Takaki Kenichi (lawyer) and the journalists of the Asahi Shimbun should be summoned to court to give evidence!


It’s PM Abe who’s said time and time again that we should “revise the Kōno Statement”. Isn’t now the time when he has to decide which stance to take? Both Kōno and Abe are in a position where they can no longer escape.


This is the kind of stuff that saboteurs usually do, isn’t it?!


Now there’s zero trust in the Kōno statement. Repeal it ASAP.


It was all a lie. They were just whores who got high fees.

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