The implementation of a bilateral agreement entered in 2015 between Soul and Tokyo received a boost after the United States and Japan supported the implementation. The arrangement concerned the solution of issues surrounding the ‘South Korean comfort women’ who had been forced to work in military brothels belonging to Japan during World War II. In preparation for the meeting between President Donald Trump of the U.S and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea scheduled for later this week, South Korean Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama met with John Sullivan, the US Deputy Secretary of State to discuss the 2015 deal. Both representatives reported having agreed that the arrangement should get implemented.
The agreement has however received criticism from President Moon who says the deal signed under the administration of his predecessor does not represent the wish of the South Korean citizens. According to Sugiyama, Japan intends to implement the now internationally valued agreement. In pursuance of this plan, Japan disbursed to a South Korean fund which is supporting the affected women 1 billion Yen. Sending a message of remorse to the affected women, Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his ‘most sincere apologies and remorse.’
Moon had pledged during his campaigns to renegotiate the agreement seeing as it had come under heavy criticism by some citizens of South Korea who claimed that it did not represent the voice of the women who were affected. The U.S Deputy Secretary of State received assurance by the Vice Foreign Minister of South Korea that Japan and the Moon administration had started making progress on bilateral relations, adding that Tokyo was keen on making the relationship stronger. He further stated that Japan would continue building trilateral ties with Washington in the wake of the nuclear and missile developments by North Korea.
Mr. Shinsuke further reported that there was a consensus between him and his colleague that Japan and the United States ought to apply pressure and sanctions on North Korea in a bid to tame its missile and nuclear programs.
They further reiterated the urgent need to push North Korea’s main diplomatic and economic benefactor, China, to play a bigger role in curbing their aggressive neighbor.
The term Korean Comfort Women refers to the girls and women that got forced to become sex slaves in occupied territories of Japan by Imperial Japanese Army during and before World War II. Debate still rages as to the number of women who were affected, with estimates ranging from as low as 20000 by a Japanese publication to 410000 by a Chinese scholar.
According to Military Correspondence of the Japanese Imperial Army, comfort stations got established with the aim of preventing the army personnel from committing rape crimes against the women in occupied territories.
Some comfort women testimonies indicate that young women were either abducted or lured from their homes with promises of jobs in factories and restaurants. They would then be locked up in comfort stations. Some of the comfort women stories got published in various history books and other media across the world. For instance, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a Japanese historian, writes that because of fear if revolt and riots by the soldiers resulting from the mounting discontentment by the soldiers, the Imperial Army of Japan provided the comfort stations in a bid to contain the situation. He, however, states that the stations never achieved the intended purpose.
Reports indicate that at the beginning the women volunteered themselves to work in comfort stations but as the army expanded and the volunteers were not enough the army personnel resorted to forcing and abducting women from the local communities. Many women were recruited with pretenses of jobs only to be forced to work as comfort women.