Latest Update,True News ,Top Story : South Korea and Japan 'finally and irreversibly' reconcile on World War II sex slaves.

Latest Update on February 16 2021:
S. Korean sexual slavery survivor wants UN court judgment.
A South Korean woman who was sexually enslaved by Japan’s World War II military called for the leaders of both countries to settle an impasse over the issue by seeking judgment from the International Court of Justice .

The 92-year-old woman, Lee Yong-soo, said Tuesday she hopes a ruling by the U.N.'s highest court handling disputes would bring closure after she and other survivors campaigned unsuccessfully for 30 years demanding that the Japanese government accept legal responsibility for their slavery.

Reading out a message to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Lee also lamented that the friction between governments over the sexual slavery issue has also hurt relations between civilians and discouraged exchanges and friendship between young people, who she said weren’t being properly educated about wartime history.

Moon’s office had no immediate reaction to Lee’s plea. Choi Young-sam, spokesperson of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said the government will “carefully review” Lee’s proposal while hearing more opinions from survivors.

“Our government will continue to closely communicate with ‘comfort women’ victims while trying to resolve the matter,” he said, using a common euphemism for the former sex slaves.

It’s unclear if Seoul would ever consider referring the matter to the U.N. court, where it has never fought any case and when anything less than a lopsided victory might be seen at home as a defeat.

But Lee said it has become clear the issue cannot be resolved through bilateral diplomatic talks or rulings by South Korea’s domestic courts that have been repeatedly rejected by the Japanese government.

“I am not asking for money. (I am asking for Japan’s) full acknowledgment of responsibilities and apology,” said Lee, who sobbed as she read the letter during the news conference in Seoul.

“There’s not much time. My last wish is for the president, our government, to seek a judgment by international law, so that I have something to say when I die and meet other survivors.”

To Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Lee said: “Let’s do this together. Let’s go to international court and settle this issue in a right way once and for all, so that the people of both countries could treat each other likes friends again ... There’s no reason for us to live like enemies.”

Tens of thousands of women across Japanese-occupied Asia and the Pacific were moved to front-line brothels used by the Japanese military.

Bilateral tensions over sexual slavery flared again last month when a South Korean court ruled that the Japanese government must give 100 million won ($90,000) to each of 12 victims who filed lawsuits in 2013 over their wartime sufferings.

Japan insists all wartime compensation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing relations with South Korea in which Tokyo provided $500 million in economic assistance to Seoul.

Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu blasted last month's court ruling as an “abnormal development absolutely unthinkable under international law and bilateral relations” and accused Seoul of worsening their ties.

The countries had already been struggling to repair relations that sank to the lowest point in decades in 2019 over earlier South Korean rulings calling for Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who were forced to work in factories during the war.

If the issue is referred to the International Court of Justice, South Korea would likely raise whether Japan’s “comfort women” system of military sexual slavery was in violation of international law in force at that time, said Ethan Hee-Seok Shin, an international law expert at Yonsei University who joined Lee at the news conference. Japan on the other hand could raise procedural questions such as whether individual claims would be waived by the 1965 agreement.

While a lawsuit at the U.N. court could only happen if both countries agree to take their dispute there, it would be illogical for Japan to object when it has already accused South Korean court rulings of violating international law, he said.

“The survivors aren’t asking for money from the Japanese government, but instead want an apology and acknowledgment of responsibility over the past action and to provide proper history education (for its public),” Shin said, saying such goals would be unattainable through domestic court rulings.

“No matter what kind of ruling the International Court of Justice produces, it will surely have to judge whether the Japanese comfort women system violated international law and that would be meaningful in itself because it would permanently leave behind the testimonies of Lee and other survivors as evidence,” he said.

Japan and South Korea reached a breakthrough agreement on Monday (12/28/2015) to “irreversibly” end a controversy over Korean women, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” who were forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels. The issue has stirred animosity between the neighbors for decades

After a meeting in Seoul, the two countries’ foreign ministers said that Japan will contribute 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a fund for the surviving elderly comfort women; in return, South Korea will refrain from criticizing Japan over the issue, and work to remove a statue representing the victims from in front of the Japanese embassy in downtown Seoul. 

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told reporters that the issue would be "finally and irreversibly resolved" if Japan fulfilled its obligations. 

Surviving Confort Woman

The agreement dovetails with the United States’ geopolitical priorities. Washington has long hoped for improved relations between its two major Asian allies to counterbalance an increasingly aggressive China and the erratic behavior of North Korea. 

In Washington, National Security Advisor Susan Rice issued a statement congratulating the two countries on the agreement, which she called "an important gesture of healing and reconciliation." 

Remembrance Statue in South Korea

She added: "We look forward to deepening our work with both nations on a wide range of regional and global issues, on the basis of mutual interests and shared values, as well as to advancing trilateral security cooperation." 

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to use the agreement to improve bilateral ties. Abe told reporters in Tokyo that Japan apologizes to the women for their pain; yet he added that future Japanese generations should not have to keep on doing so. 

"We should not allow this problem to drag on into the next generation," he said, echoing remarks he made marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Aug. 15. " From now on, Japan and South Korea will enter a new era." 

The agreement was unexpected, especially under the conservative Abe administration. Until quite recently, Abe has been critical of attempts by previous administrations to acknowledge Japanese military involvement in the enslavement of the comfort women. Critics have called him a historical revisionist. 

The controversy over former comfort women began in late 1991 when a group of South Korean women filed a lawsuit with a Tokyo court, insisting that the Japanese army sexually enslaved them before and during World War II. They demanded that the Japanese government formally apologize and compensate them for their suffering.

For decades before that, the Japanese government had considered the matter closed. Yet during a visit to Seoul in January 1993, then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa officially apologized to South Koreans for the suffering inflicted upon comfort women by the Japanese army. In the same year, Japan issued a formal apology for the wartime network of brothels and front-line stations that provided sex for the military and its contractors. 

It has been estimated that up to 200,000 women were sex slaves for Japanese soldiers before and during WWII. Many were Korean but there were also women from Indonesia and other countries. 

Japan’s more conservative politicians have criticized the apology, despite substantial evidence that the Japanese government was involved in trafficking the women. 

Nobutaka Shikanai, the former President of Japan’s most conservative paper, the Sankei Shimbun, and an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army’s accounting department during the war, has acknowledged the government’s role in building wartime sex-trafficking networks. 

“When we procured the girls, we had to look at their endurance, how used up they were, whether they were good or not,” he was quoted as saying in a book of interviews and memoirs, "The Secret History of The War." “We had to calculate the allotted time for commissioned officers, commanding officers, grunts, how many minutes. We also had to fix prices according to rank. There was even a prospectus we learned in [military] accounting school.” 

Many of the comfort women came from South Korea, which was annexed by Japan from 1910 to 1945, and many South Koreans still feel bitter over the brutal occupation. 

In South Korea, 46 of the women are still alive. 

In June 1995, the Japanese government announced details to creating a special fund to provide allowances to former comfort women. However, many South Koreans criticized the fund – which consisted of money raised from private donors – for glossing over the Japanese government’s role in perpetrating wartime atrocities. The fund was dissolved in 2007.


A Seoul civic group representing Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II slammed the Japanese government on June 21, 2014 for its attempt to undermine the credibility of its 1993 apology, adding the move is clearly a “regression of history.”

“The move is a provocation against the global society which yearns for the eradication of wartime violence on women and the rightful history,” it added.

Almost all of the women, now elderly, have died, increasing worries that the remaining victims may also die before Japan makes atonement. Only 54 victims remain alive in South Korea, and their average age is 88.

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