As tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula, it comes as no surprise that the debate over the comfort women agreement was so fierce. After several weeks of delegation, the administration has decided to continue the deal agreed upon in 2015. There have been rumors for several months that the agreement may be overturned fueled by the investigation conducted by the special task force which concluded that the contract was flawed and dealt heavy criticism towards the South Korean government for not hearing these comfort women testimonies.
These comfort women stories are in reference to women who were mobilized by the Japanese government during World War II for sexual slavery. This has long been a source of contention between Japan and South Korean relationships. This was Japan’s first attempt to appease the Korean comfort women occurring in 1993 when the chief Cabinet Secretary YoheiKono acknowledged the involvement of the Imperial Japanese Army and the establishment of the South Korean comfort women. This was followed by the world-famous heartfelt apology in 1995 from Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. The Asian women’s fund was established to help carry out the atonement project with goals of enabling financial compensation and health care for the so-called comfort women.
These attempts were both deemed insufficient by the government of South Korea as they regarded the Asian women’s fund a private entity. Although this organization was able to offer help and soulless for various women in the South Korean peninsula, victims continue to push Japan for compensation, one that would be considered an official response from the Japanese government.
Over the year the issue has come again between the two countries over and over. Particularly with the building of several statues meant to symbolize these South Korean comfort women. With one particular statue being directed in Seoul in 2001 in front of the Japanese Embassy. Since then the sculptures have spread between several nations amongst the world including Europe and the United States.
The agreement which was reached in December 2015 initially had the intent of the ending of this negative spiral. This agreement had South Korean government demands for a demonstration of atonement for the Japanese government. Under the conditions for this agreement, the government of the Japanese people would contribute to a foundation established by the South Korean government intended to allow projects that would help to take care of the needs of the victims of these tragedies.
While this agreement was subject to heavy criticism from both sides, it was determined to be potentially the best possible compromise between the two nations. When the new moon administration’s decision to stand by the agreement prevented the worst, there was much relief as had been overturned the revision could have damaged Japanese Korean relationships. At least this agreement has been assured after the announcement by the Japanese government.
This does not preclude any damages that may have already occurred. Specifically, the South Korean government could have possibly made the Japanese governments already deep position even deeper making any possible discussion on the issue in the future impregnable. This was in the face of statements from Japan which had already been made stating that they would be open to discussion of additional measures in the context of a better implementation of the agreement. However, because the South Korean government openly asked for the Japanese government to continue making efforts the Japanese government’s intentions will be far less likely. This change in position is indicated and comments from the Japanese Embassy on January 9 that there is no change in the Japanese government’s position and that the implantation of this agreement will be considered final and irreversible.