Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over "Comfort Women"
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over "Comfort Women"

After decades of denial, Japan finally offers compensation for World War II Korean sex slaves

Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over "Comfort Women"
BBC News

Many of us remember World War II by two particular events: the attack on Pearl Harbor, which many consider the beginning of the United States' involvement in the war, and the Holocaust. To Americans, World War II was a bloody, brutal couple of years from which the United States emerged victorious. To South Koreans, however, World War II is largely remembered by the comfort women whose identities and legacies have long gone unacknowledged and uncompensated by Japan's government.

What are comfort women?

During the 1930s and 40s, when Japan began to expand and invade other nations, they set up "comfort stations" within their military bases. On the surface, they were meant for exactly what it sounds like: comforting Japanese soldiers while they serve their country on the front lines in a foreign land. Realistically, however, they were places where non-Japanese women and girls would be imprisoned and raped dozens of times a day. Most of the comfort women were Korean (although there were some from China and other imperialized Asian nations).

While at first they would be recruited almost as prostitutes, eventually Japanese soldiers would simply kidnap, threaten, or kill women and young girls who did not obey them. In fact, the majority of comfort "women" were just girls: most of them were between the ages of 14 and 18, typically because if they were younger, they were more likely to be virgins.

What does the deal entail?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to pay approximately $8 million in reparations, as well as issue a formal apology on behalf of the Japanese government. The money would not go directly to the pockets of the victims, but will instead go to a foundation the South Korean government will create to provide medical care, nursing, and other services.

South Korea, in return, will consider the deal a "final and irreversible resolution" of the issue. This would mean they would likely not be able to request more money or action on Japan's part, should the issue arise again. They have also agreed never to criticize Tokyo for their involvement in the proliferation and exploitation of comfort women ever again. Furthermore, the government will consider removing a statue erected in front of the Japanese embassy building in South Korea (see header) that is meant to represent the comfort women and be a constant reminder of the atrocities of 70 years ago.

What has been the response?

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her supporters believe the deal is a promising and important step in improving relations between South Korea and Japan, but much of the nation is still torn on the issue. Many citizens still harbor anti-Japanese sentiment and believe the deal is simply a way for Japan to pay money and not have to face legal repercussions for the actions that occurred to women who are still alive today. Activists as well as several of the remaining survivors demand further reparations from Japan, and insist that declaring the issue finally and irreversibly resolved would not lead to actual justice for the victims.

The relationship between Japan and South Korea is extremely tense, and there is no telling for sure whether or not conditions will improve as a result of the deal. We can only wait and see.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less
Dating Apps

We Met At A Bar

Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

We Met At A Bar
Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Mets And Me

They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments