primary obstacles to the 2015 final and irreversible agreement over the comfort women testimonies

There has been an ever-growing tension between Japan and South Korea over the years concerning the comfort women testimonies. The raw seems to wreak havoc on the bilateral relations between the two countries.

It is evident that the citizens of the two countries are learning the discomfort of the deteriorating relationship between the two immediate neighbors, based on statistics, more than 68% of the South Koreans and 58% of the Japanese citizens feel the comfort women testimonies are the primary contributing factors to the bad taste.

South Korea counts the comfort women testimonies as a historical injustice that the Government of Japan does not want to own up. It is indeed a critical matter for any nation to acknowledge a historical injustice for many reasons including the face of the country.

To factor in what the face of the nation means; the nose-diving bilateral relation between Japan and South Korea has led to ripple effects in the economy of Japan that includes the United States finding a softer power in South Korea regarding economic growth.

Between 1998 and 2013, South Korea’s National Income and the Domestic Growth seem to be narrowing the gap with that of Japan. The implication from economists’ attributes this to factors like the comfort women testimonies.

The Effect Of The 2015 Agreement

History so far judges the comfort women testimonies with various perceptions.  Japan could be under threat so far from other Asian countries with the comfort women testimonies on their lips. For instance, the comfort women in the Philippines and Taiwan are pushing their governments to add voices on their pleas for the Japanese government to compensate them.

This is one of the reasons why Japan finds it tough to own up everything concerning the comfort women. Remember the same countries this time including China; have erected statues to commemorate the historical comfort women episodes of the Second World War.

So, What Are the Concrete Threats to the 2015 Final Agreement?

The recent claims by the human rights advocacy for women have raised a heated debate on how the 2015 agreement was conducted and whether it qualified to settle fully the comfort women testimonies. It is a tricky perspective since their demands may push President Moon Jae-in to seek more negotiations with Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe.

With such pressure and the pressure from the party of the Democratic Republic of South Korea whose ticket Moon ascended to power with, President Moon made a statement that Japan still has to give a “sincere apology.” 

A quick projection on the reaction of Japan can be deducted based on the many occurrences before and after Moons statement. Let’s go back slightly three years back. During the 2015 agreement, Mr. Abe made a statement that was a clear signal on the position of Tokyo on the comfort women testimonies.

First, he termed the agreement as irreversible. That was a simple, but executive stand. We shall look at why he termed it ‘’Final and Irreversible” shortly. A more projection can be made from Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, in 2016 after Moon’s Speech. He insisted that the 2015 Agreement was irreversible.

The stalemate hits the bedrock on the 2015 renegotiation because both parties agreed to it and signed against the terms. By the time of signing, the Former President of South Korea, Park Geun Hye, was on the rule shortly before she was impeached.

So far, Japan has played her role of releasing the $8.3 million it pledged from her budget to establish a foundation in South Korea for the comfort women testimonies compensation. Mr. Moon acknowledged the compensation but insisted on the apology.

According to South Korea, the money without apology would not amount to full compensation and would lead to future violence. Mr. Moon needs Japan to liaise with international communities to ensure that such acts do not recur again in the history of their existence.

What Is This Apology?

The heart of the comfort women testimonies is in the “apology” demand. Looking at the genesis of this conflict Japan has sent apologies to the government and People of South Korea on many accounts. One of them being the 1993 Kono statement and the 2015 report by PM Abe.

The human rights advocacy for women in South Korea insists that no amount of money can compensate for the effects of poverty and trauma the comfort women go through on a daily basis. That is one aspect of apology.

According to the same advocacy group, the comfort expresses the discontent of the comfort women for lack of active participation in the agreement. They have more demands than what was brought on the table. That is expected. In Japan, not all agree to the acceptance and the apology that Abe made.

The Good News

During the 2015 final agreement, both parties agreed to improve the relationship between the two nations. The current regime supports a good relationship in the neighborhood. It is evident from the effect the comfort women testimonies have on Japan; she would not want to live with the hump.

Mr. Abe who is known far and wide for his nationalistic views, needs the region to have a more cooperate vibrancy that will ensure more fundamental matters of security come into play.

2015 agreement comes at a time when the nuclear plant at North Korea is giving the Governments of South Korea and Japan sleepless nights. The two are the most immediate neighbors, and they feel under threat.

With such factors at hand, South Korea and Japan have become allies to put a shell of protection around themselves. That means, other factors that put them at loggerheads should be put to rest like the comfort women testimonies.

So far, the atmosphere around the comfort women testimonies based in the 2015 final and irreversible agreement is growing conducive by day. The government of South Korea through Moon shows interest by putting up the foundation which will be a source of solace and professional care center for the comfort women who have now advanced in age.





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Comfort Women Stories

Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu (慰安婦),[4] a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”.[5] Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 (by Japanese conservative historian Ikuhiko Hata[6]) to as high as 360,000 to 410,000 (by a Chinese scholar[7]); the exact numbers are still being researched and debated.

Most of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines.[9] Women were used for military “comfort stations” from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), the Dutch East Indies, Portuguese Timor,[10][11] and other Japanese-occupied territories. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina.[12] A smaller number of women of European origin were also involved from the Netherlands[13] and Australia with an estimated 200–400 Dutch women alone.

According to testimonies, young women were abducted from their homes in countries under Imperial Japanese rule. In many cases, women were lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants, or opportunities for higher education; once recruited, they were incarcerated in comfort stations both inside their nations and abroad.

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