Over the past few days, the agreement between the Japanese and South Korean governments on the issue of the comfort women has made global news.
The nations reached a bi-lateral agreement settling the contentious issue over whether the Japanese government forced Korean girls and women to act as military prostitutes during WWII. As part of the agreement, Japan will set up a fund of one billion yen ($8.3 million) for the former comfort women, and Korea will consider the issue resolved provided that this is adhered to.
But the agreement has provoked a strong backlash in South Korea from the comfort women and their supporters. It has also prompted reactions from other nations whose women were also used as sexual slaves for the Japanese military, including Taiwan, as well as a reaction from within Japan itself.
This article from Yahoo! Japan prompted thousands of online comments, which show a characteristic discontent with the agreement. Some netizens seemed to take a perverse delight in the conflict that the agreement has incited in South Korea, mockingly suggesting that it may well lead to a civil war.
But as has often been the case with the narrative of the comfort women, the women’s voices themselves increasingly go unheard, as do the myriad issues that go beyond the national political concerns of Japan and Korea.
From Yahoo! Japan:
“It Is Impossible To Agree On Anything More Than We Have”: South Korean President Asks For Understanding On Comfort Women Issue
On January 31, the Office of the President of the Republic of Korea published a message to the Korean people regarding the Japanese-Korean agreement on the issue of the comfort women which asked for understanding:”While it might be said that we should go back to the drawing board and not agree with what has been offered, we would like everyone to understand that there is no margin for the government to achieve anything more than this within the lifetimes of the former comfort women”.
Although President Park Geun-hye announced a message to the Korean people immediately after the agreement on December 28, she appealed to them again today following a strong reaction from the former comfort women and the groups that support them.
The message was delivered by Kim Seong-u, public relations secretary for the Office of the President. Kim stated that successive governments had ignored the comfort women issue, but emphasized that the current administration “had faced negotiations with an understanding of their critical nature, and had done so in order to protect national interests in a diplomatic climate akin to a battlefield in which there is no sound of gunfire”. Kim explained that “We had done everything in our power to secure an admission of responsibility from the Japanese government, as well their public remorse, and their apology. We deem this to be sufficient progress within the bounds of what was possible”.
Moreover, the message was critical as regards the opposition party, the former comfort women, and comfort women support groups: “Although up to this point we made no progress through the efforts of private citizens, the fact that there is now a public opinion brewing which seems to suggest that the government has negotiated in error is of absolutely no benefit to the women who have suffered”. The president called for people to take things in a positive light, saying that “What we must do now is form a binding agreement with the Japanese government on taking a straight look at the historical narrative, and make this an opportunity for both of our nations to move together toward a new future. We would like everyone to understand this in the context of the bigger picture, and to work together.
Comments from Yahoo! Japan [in order of most upvoted]
It is completely intolerable that we form an agreement over a non-existent issue.
It seems like things are going to go sour in the country now, but things had been pretty weird up to now so not much we can do about it.
This is awful.
Looks like it’s time to pay for all the credit they used up doing things when it was convenient for them.
Payback for all the times they rehashed an issue that had already come to an end.
So unless they withdraw from the agreement there will be no progress? The ball is in their court.
Come on, this issue has already been dealt with. Withdraw from the agreement immediately, please.
Yeah, it’s impossible to agree on anything more than this, and it’s impossible for us to be involved with Korea any further.
It’s even worse than it was before now.
It’s impossible that things will get better.
I’m sure there are some good people among them, but in Korea there is just too much anti-Japanese sentiment.
Comments from 2ch.net:
Dissent among the ranks?
Hah, Korea is in tatters w
So does this mean that the Korean government intends to reconcile with Japan?
The government has now turned its anger on those crazy whores wwww
Seems like there are usually some fakes in among the prostitutes who are complaining.
Looks like this might start a civil war www
Umm, kinda seems to me that the gooks greatest enemy is the gooks themselves? [NB: Commenter uses the now derogatory term “chosenjin” which was the name for a Korean during the Japanese Occupation of Korea (1910 – 1945).]
To put it bluntly, the comfort women are just excess baggage to both the South Korean and the Japanese governments.
They’re getting their just desserts now.
You reap what you sow.
They got governmental support through their anti-Japanese sentiment, so now there’s a friction between their foreign diplomacy and their domestic affairs.
This is awful. The SK government used the comfort women as much as they could, and then at the last moment they just cast them aside.