Problems Persist As Moon Decides to Uphold Japan-Korea Agreement On ‘Comfort Women’ Issue

by | May 19, 2018 | World Featured

Since his candidacy for the presidency of South Korea, President Moon Jae-in has been critical of the standing agreement with Japan that would provide restitution for the surviving “comfort women” in his country. President Moon’s predecessor, Park Geun-hye was locked in negotiations with the Japanese government for two years before the existing deal was reached, something President Moon vowed to challenge if he was elected.

President Moon initially kept his promise, appointing the Special Task Force to analyze the deal that was agreed upon in 2015 and determine how it benefits the South Korean comfort women. When their findings were announced, it was decided that both governments should be doing more. Failing to conduct comfort women testimonies is just one such critique the Special Task Force leveled against the previous administration.

Since the agreement was determined to be flawed, President Moon determined that it could not resolve the issues facing Korean comfort women. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono quickly followed that statement with his own, saying that any attempt to revise the existing agreement will lead to a weakening of Japan-South Korea relations.

During World War II, Japanese authorities, and those masquerading as Japanese authorities, pulled Korean women into sexual slavery. The comfort women stories have been a point of contention between Japan and South Korea for decades. There have been attempts to resolve this in the 1990s, which would had the Japanese government acknowledge their crimes against Korean women, later issuing an apology, and the formation of the Asian Women’s Fund and the Atonement Project, both of which would go on to provide health care and financial restitution to the survivors.

At the time South Korea deemed those efforts as insufficient. The Asian Women’s Fund lacked an official affiliation to the Japanese government and was funded through private donations rather than government money.

The 2015 agreement sought to resolve those issues from the attempts in the 1990s. Japan contributed to a fund run by the South Korean government to use in ways that would best benefit the survivors. However, this agreement came with the caveat that both governments would agree that this would be the official end to the issue of comfort women. Given the state of nuclear tension from North Korea, many see this as a necessary move to form a united front against Kim Jong-un should diplomatic talks fail.

President Moon’s willingness to accept the agreement as it stands seems to indicate that those other concerns are taking precedence for the moment, but an animosity between the two countries persists. Threatening to end a deal made by Park, will make it difficult to touch on the issue moving forward. The language in the existing agreement left room for President Moon to assume a position to negotiate for more resources to best benefit the surviving women. That would have required the proper environment and diplomatic approach. Publicly challenging the Japanese government to make further efforts can possibly push them to become further entrenched in their existing position.

Back in January, Foreign Minister Kono reiterated that Japan refuses to change its position and will only move forward in implementing the terms that had been negotiated two years prior, that their agreement is irreversible.

Whether it was a decision to stick to a campaign promise or a fight to get more for the surviving comfort women, President Moon may have given up his best opportunity to negotiate for more resources or gestures from the Japanese government. As the world watches President Moon’s talks with Kim Jong-un, which may require more public support from Japan, many will judge if it was worth it in the end.

Author Bio

Rahul Raheja is the founder of  a highly passionate writer,digital marketer and outreaching expert who loves creating an imaginary world with his writings. business development consultant, strategist, blogger, traveler, motivational writer & speaker. Oh, He is also a kick-ass editor at Spotify . Stay tuned with him at: FB/imraheja


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