When it comes to matters of history, Japan and South Korea can never seem to be on the same page.
Three days ago, South Korea said that it would not roll back a 2015 agreement over Korean women turned into sex slaves (usually called comfort women) by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Last Friday, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, would not accept any more additions to this agreement.
This disagreement over the accord could even threaten Abe’s attendance at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics next month.
Abe told reporters that there is no way that he is going to accept South Korea’s request for additions to the accord about the so-called sex slaves.
Moon Jae-In, the president of South Korea, wants a sincere apology regarding the accord., but it looks he is not getting one at this time.
Abe believes that the Japan-South Korea regarding the sex slaves was a promise made between Japan and South Korea. Based on global and universal principle, he is not going to keep it.
The issue of the sex slaves is a wound that has existed for a long time between the two countries. Critics from each country have accused each other of drastically changing or whitewashing history. This latest disagreement comes at an inopportune time as the South Korea and Japan are facing an ongoing nuclear crisis with North Korea.
Abe had signed the accord about sex slaves with Park Geun-hye, the Korean President in 2005. This accord was supposed to be a final resolution of this issue.
What was part of this deal? An apology from Japan and an $8,8 million fund to give healthcare to the surviving sex slaves.
This deal was almost immediately criticized by South Korea as they deemed it insufficient.
The new president, Moon, promised to review the deal. The South Korean review panel cam to the conclusion that South Korea had failed to do what these sex slaves wanted. The South Korean comfort women wanted Japan to be legally responsible for what happened and get official reparations.
Now, Moon’s government announced recently that it would not change the deal, but on a Tuesday, Kang Kyung, Moon’s foreign minister, said the 2015 settlement will not be the final solution to the comfort women issue. In addition, she said that South Korea would set up a $8,8 million fund for the sex slaves. They have spoken with Japan about this fund.
On a Wednesday, Moon wants Japan to sincerely apologize to the South Korean comfort women and that Japan should learn from this situation so something like this will not happen again.
Abe will not apologize as he thinks that it is unacceptable and might even protest having to make the apology by boycotting the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Abe is still deciding whether he should go or not. One reason that he might not go because he would have to stay for the parliamentary session as it says Jan. 22nd. He did attend the 2014 Olympics despite the fact that parliament was in session.
The Japanese have taken Ave’s side and have supported his pushback against South Korea’s demand regarding the comfort women testimonies. The left-wing newspaper, Asahi Shimbun is believes that South Korea is not being consistent with what it has said in the past. This newspaper also things that Japan should maintain the agreement and should not be bullied by South Korea into changing the agreement regarding comfort women stories.
Several people have agreed that Japan has already apologized regarding the Korean comfort women in a landmark announcement made 25 years ago. Yohei Kono, a chief cabinet secretary at that time, had said that Japanese soldiers had forced Korean women to become their sex slaves.