Resolution on Comfort Women May Benefit Japan, Korea and the Region
By Staff Writer
Japan and South Korea agreed on Monday, December 28 to resolve the issue of comfort women, those who were forced into sexual slavery during Japanese occupation of Korea. The resolution may benefit regional trade and security in the region, but it has some issues regarding the symbolic statue in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul.
A historic agreement was reached on Monday. As CNN reported, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his government will give 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) worth of funds to help those who suffered. Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se said that as long as Tokyo sticks to its side of the deal, Seoul will consider the issue "irreversibly" resolved.
Minister Yun also said that both Japan and Korea "will refrain from criticizing and blaming each other in the international society, including the United Nations," in a joint press conference on Monday.
The issues of comfort women have been a stumbling block for Japan's relationship with Korea and China. It is estimated that there were 200,000 women were enslaved by Japanese in World War II, most of them are Koreans and also women from China, Taiwan and other countries under Japanese imperial rule. The agreement started since November between Japan, Korea and China in a trilateral summit to restore relationship between the nations.
According to Nikkei, both Seoul and Tokyo is likely to increase economic and defense cooperation in addition to contributing to the stability of East Asia. In commerce, South Korea was expected to further discuss the possibility of joining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, of which Japan is also the member. South Korea can partner Japan in negotiating trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG), because both Japan and South Korea's consumption reaches 60% of global import volume of LNG.
In the defense cooperation, Japan and Korea are the most omportant U.S. allies in Asia, and agreement to share military intelligence between Tokyo and Seoul is highly expected. Especially in order to anticipate North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile program.
However, there was an unresolved issue regarding a statue symbolizing the comfort women. Korea Times reported that a South Korean official on Wednesday denied Japanese news reports that Seoul agreed to relocate the statue from current location in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The official told Yonhap News Agency that, "Japan made no such demand during the negotiations."
Meanwhile, Japanese media claimed that South Korea agreed to relocate the statue if Japan pays the reparations. South Korean Foreign Minister replied that the country will consider the request to relocate the statue that was erected in 2011 by families of the victims and supporters.