In WW2 an estimated 200,000 women were ordered to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers, many of them Koreans. These women were to become known as the Comfort Women. In 2015, with only 46 former “comfort women” left, Japan and South Korea finally came to a proposed agreement to hopefully end decades of bitterness. Japan agreed to pay a 1-billion-yen contribution to a foundation for the cause and also apologize taking deep responsibility for the actions of the Japanese soldiers. In exchange, South Korea agreed to take down a statue representing South Korean Comfort women that were put in front of the Japanese embassy in South Korea.
Nearly 6 months after the agreement measures still needed to be implemented however both countries dislike for the terms were making it an impossible task. The statue representing the Korean Comfort women was increasingly growing more popular and becoming recognized by people all over the world. Despite the terms of the original agreement the Japanese Prime Minister stated that the agreement made between South Korea and Japan was not an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing by the Japanese Soldiers and many argue that there was never any commencement for sex. Since the agreement, both countries citizens are rioting in the streets and protesting against the signing of the agreement.
The Prime Minister of Japan recognizes that the agreement is needed to bring peace to both countries and believes that it will bring stability to Japan. However, in South Korea, the country is torn with 50% disapproval of the agreement and over 60% against removing the statue that represents the comfort women. To add to the matter, since the original agreement the South Korean President lost in the April election leaving the people’s party who opposes the agreement. Many of South Koreans view the agreement as a way for the Japanese to wash over the wrongdoing that was done. With all that said South Korea does still show an interest in settling the issue so that Japan and South Korea can move forward in their relationship, benefiting both countries.
The statue and the Comfort women stories seem to be the biggest hurdle in the agreement between Japan and South Korea. Many countries in Asia besides Korea have statues dedicated to the Comfort women testimonies. The United States has nonprofit organizations to support the cause, and their base continues to grow. Japan sees the support for the statues as a concern and believes that it will hinder any progress moving forward with the agreement.
While both countries acknowledge that an agreement needs to be settled, outside forces seem to be making that an impossible task at hand. The surviving women left to believe that Japan owes a direct apology to them and that direct compensation needs to be made.
Since the original agreement, Japan has talked of paying 100 million yen and has repeatedly apologized and acknowledged its responsibility for the treatment of the sex slaves. Negotiators have also seemed to settle disagreements over the wording of the agreement and are coming to terms both countries can accept. Hopefully, both countries can come to terms and move forward, and the women wronged can finally receive the peace that they deserve.