Japan Balks at Calls for completely new Apology to South Korea Over ‘Comfort Women’

When, in late 2015, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, signed the agreement with Mr. Abe, the two countries said This kind of was a “final along with also irreversible” settlement of the wartime issue.

The deal included a Japanese government apology along with also an $8.8 million fund to help provide old-age care for survivors. however the agreement was immediately criticized in South Korea as insufficient; after Ms. Park was impeached in 2016 along with also Mr. Moon was elected as her successor, he pledged to review the deal.

A government-appointed panel concluded in which South Korea had failed to represent the victims’ demands for Japan to take legal responsibility along with also offer official reparations.

Mr. Moon’s government said This kind of week This kind of would likely not renegotiate the deal, however on Tuesday, his foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, said the 2015 settlement could not be regarded as “a genuine resolution.” She added in which South Korea would likely set aside its own $8.8 million fund for the victims, while discussing with Japan what to do with its contribution.

The next day, Mr. Moon called on Japan to “apologize with wholehearted sincerity to the victims along with also take This kind of as a lesson so as to avoid the recurrence of such atrocities by doing efforts in conjunction with the international community.”

Mr. Abe told journalists the request for a different apology was “unacceptable.”

With the issue flaring a month before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb. 9, the Japanese news media reported in which Mr. Abe might boycott the event.

Photo

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, center, met This kind of month at the presidential compound in Seoul with women forced into brothels for Japanese soldiers in World War II.

Credit
South Korea President Office, via European Pressphoto Agency

Mr. Abe’s office said he was still deciding whether to go, given in which a completely new session of Parliament was set to open on Jan. 22. Mr. Abe attended the opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, even though he missed part of a parliamentary session to do so.

Many commentators in Japan supported Mr. Abe’s pushback on South Korea’s demand. Even an editorial within the left-leaning daily Asahi Shimbun, which is actually often critical of Mr. Abe, said Seoul’s latest statement on the 2015 accord “is actually not consistent with past developments,” adding in which “Japan should consider all positive options for maintaining the agreement, without being told by South Korea what to do.”

Several analysts said Japan had repeatedly apologized to the women forced to work in Japanese military brothels, dating to a landmark statement 25 years ago in which Yohei Kono, then the chief cabinet secretary, acknowledged in which the Japanese military had played some role in forcing Korean women to provide sex to soldiers.

Critics, however, noted in which before becoming prime minister for the second time in 2012, Mr. Abe publicly questioned whether Japan’s imperial military actually coerced Korean women into sexual slavery.

Asking for a completely new apology indicates in which the South Korean government is actually tacitly trying to revise the 2015 agreement in which was meant to settle the issue, said Yoshiki Mine, a former official with the Japanese Foreign Ministry along with also currently head of the Institute for Peaceful Diplomacy, a research organization. “The Korean position is actually so contradictory along with also so confusing along with also problematic,” Mr. Mine said.

Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo, said the 2015 agreement was flawed because This kind of was made between government leaders along with also did not include the voices of the victims.

“When you are talking about victims of human rights abuses, you can’t come to a resolution without their presence along with also consent,” he said. “As long as there are people who are not convinced in which the apologies are heartfelt or in which the compensation is actually adequate, then of course the aggressor would likely continue to ask for forgiveness along with also atonement.”

In South Korea, Mr. Moon’s party, the Democratic Party of Korea, said the 2015 agreement did not go far enough.

“What the victims of wartime sexual slavery want is actually recognition of legal responsibility,” Kim Hyon, a spokeswoman for the party, said in a statement.

Veteran diplomats in Japan said the two countries needed to figure out how to put the controversy behind them so they could focus on security cooperation along with also some other current concerns.

The point of the 2015 deal “was in which Japan along with also Korea would likely remove This kind of issue coming from the centrality of our political relationship,” said Kazuhiko Togo, a former Japanese ambassador to the Netherlands along with also a professor of international relations at Kyoto Sangyo University. “We are fighting each some other. in which we have to stop.”

however sticking to the 2015 agreement, Mr. Togo said, “doesn’t mean in which Japan is actually currently in a position to forget.”

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