In the wake of a recent “comfort women” settlement between Japan and South Korea, former Korean sex-slaves say that Japan has not gone far enough to make amends for its wartime actions.
In December, it gained worldwide attention, and the dispute officially ended in a settlement between Japan and South Korea. The settlement included $8.3 million for the establishment of a foundation to support comfort women, and Japan’s formal written apology. However, comfort women and Korean activists are opposed to this official negotiation, saying Japan’s apology lacked sincerity.
According to OhMyNews.com, Fumio Kishida, Japanese politician, stated that Japan only lost $8.3 million, meaning that $8.3 million was merely for “support.” If Japan had given the money as “compensation,” it would have meant it was a true apology. The apology that Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, gave to comfort women on behalf of Japanese citizens during the conversation with Korean president Park Geun-hye, was limited to how he was sorrowful about the difficulties comfort women had to endure.
“The disputes cannot be finalized just by that negotiation because Japan needs to have a more sincere attitude,” Sarah Kang, senior at Brea Olinda High School, stated. Kang said that she felt great sympathy for women who had suffered from sexual slavery, because of the practice’s personal nature and social stigma.
Besides sexual-slavery problems, Japan used “marutas”–Chinese, Russians, Mongolians and Koreans who were used as human subjects of brutal scientific experiments from 1936 to 1945. For instance, Japanese researchers injected deadly bacteria into subjects to study disease, froze people’s limbs while they were still alive, and removed people’s organs without anesthesia.
“It was inhuman cruelty,” Kang said. The student said that unlike Germany, which apologized wholeheartedly for Nazi atrocities, Japan has not been sincere in its apology for the practice of using comfort women. The Japanese government made it clear that the $8.3 million is not reparations for the practice, and the vague language of the apology did not clarify whether Japan’s apology was moral or legal, according to the New York Times. Some Japanese people contend that the comfort women were prostitutes and were not coerced.
However, a Japanese American activist–Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International–told the Times that Japan had a ways to go before delivering justice to the former sex slaves.
“The women were missing from the negotiation table, and they must not be sold short in a deal that is more about political expediency than justice,” she said.