The discussions of the Comfort Women issues have dragged on for a long time. There has been the discussion of the topic in the international forum beyond Asia. The agreement between the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers on 28th December 2015 was expected to lay the matter to rest. The Japanese, as well as the Korean nationals, had and still have the hope that the agreement signed will be implemented by the two governments. This accord would end the straining relationship between the two Asian large economies.
During the signing of the agreement, the Foreign Minister of Japan Mr. Fumio Kishida, formally acknowledged that the Japanese Imperial Army committed atrocities. He stated that the inhumane act dishonored the Korean women. Also, Mr. Kishida apologized on behalf of the Japanese people as well as the government and regretted the extreme action on all women. In good faith, the state of Japan through its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, agreed to contribute one billion yen equivalent of nine million dollars in a lump sum. The contribution was to go to South Korean comfort women foundation that the Korean government was expected to establish. Mr. Byung-se, the South Korean Foreign Minister present during the agreement had promised to find the lasting solution to end the matter finally amicably. Also, he assured the removal of the statue of comfort women erected in front of the Japanese embassy in the Korean Capital.
However, the dragging by both countries to implement the agreement is creating a serious challenge. The deal was meant to heal the wound somehow. The failure by both governments to follow up the matter is fuelling the discontent among their citizen thereby straining their relationships. Also, it is increasing the popularity of the comfort women issue and statues globally. Mr. Abe infuriated the Koreans after stating that the agreement did not in any way constitute Japanese acknowledgment to the atrocities committed. The comfort women testimonies remained chronicles, and no evidence could be forwarded to the Japanese army committing the sexual crimes. Consequently, even Abe’s cabinet senior politicians concurred with this statement. The Japanese Prime Minister was speaking in the Japanese Diet Upper House.
In South Korea, the citizens are of different opinion concerning the Korean comfort women. Over half of the population do not support the agreement, and much more especially the younger generation does not want the relocation of the stature. The losing of the legislative majority by President Geun-hye’s party does cast a dark shadow on the implementation of the December agreement. The Korean main opposition parties want the comfort stories to continue and their advocate for renegotiation of the agreement. Also, the Korean civil rights society feels that the agreement was a cover-up for the Japanese army wrongful acts. Lawyers for a Democratic Society constituted a petition to the United Nations on whether the agreement achieved the standards for International human rights.
With all this indifference with the Korean comfort women issue, a fast and lasting solution needs to be found. The hurdles and discomfort created by the statues in Korea and other Asian countries bring unnecessary tension between the two countries. The comfort women stories are drawing support from outside Asia with prominent American politicians as well as from NGO’s endorsing it. This backing is a big concern to Japanese global image and diplomacy. Also, it creates more tension between the South Korea and Japan economies. Though it has not escalated into the international forum, its effects will soon be experienced by both especially economically. Therefore, the two countries should see to it that the December 28th, 2015 agreement is fully implemented and in good faith.