lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2015

AGREEMENT REACHED BETWEEN JAPAN AND KOREA ON COMFORT WOMEN

Picture taken form a press French article entittled: "Japon: les "femmes de réconfort" réclament justice"

Authorities of Japan and South Korea have announced that they have finally reached an "agreement" to settle the issue of "comfort women", forced to work in Japanese brothels during World WarTwo. However the full text of the "agreement" is not available, and only are public declarations made by both top MFA officials.

In an investigation made in 2007 (see thesis entitled: Comfort Women: Human Rights of Women from Then to Present" it is written that:"From 1931 to 1945, comfort stations were established in many places where the Japanese army combated or occupied, including China, Taiwan, Borneo, the Philippines, the pacific islands, Singapore, Malaya, Burma, Indonesia as well as Japan. Due to the concealment of the relevant documents by the Japanese government and a long lapse of time after World War II, it is impossible to estimate the exact number of the comfort women. In accordance with “the Japanese military plan devised in July 1941, 20,000 comfort women were required for every 700,000 Japanese soldiers, or 1 woman for every 35 soldiers.” As approximately 3.5 million soldiers were mainly sent to the pacific islands, the estimated number of the comfort women becomes 100,000. Nearly 80% of these women were the Korean women, and others were taken from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. Most of the comfort women were also young. According to interviews of surviving women, many of the women were teenagers, even including an 11-year-old child. Regrettably, it seemed that the younger women were preferred".

According to press notes, the "agreement" reached includes Japan´s official apologises and a compensation of 1 billion yens (US$ 8.3 millions) to fund victims. However, the text of the formal agreement continues to be unknown. This issue has been an extremely sensitive issue in bilateral relations between both States. BBC note indicates that "only 46 former "comfort women" are still alive in South Korea". In an article of El Pais (Spain) of 1992 referring to a very first recognition by Japan authorities, 390 "comfort women" in South Korea were reported.

In a communiqué posted by Republic of Korea´s Foreign Affairs Ministry, we read that:

Remarks at the Joint Press Availability December 28, 2015

Minister Yun:

Good afternoon. Today, I had in-depth consultations with Minister Kishida on matters of mutual interest, including the “comfort women” issue.

First of all, I would like to thank Minister Kishida for taking the time out of his busy schedule to attend this meeting today. As you are well aware, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan. My government has been sparing no efforts to work out an early resolution of the “comfort women” issue, the most crucial history-related issue between Korea and Japan, in this historic year.

In particular, thanks to the political decision made by President Park and Prime Minister Abe at the November 2nd summit to “accelerate consultations to settle the ‘comfort women’ issue at the earliest possible date, bearing in mind that this year marks a turning point in the relations between the two countries as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties,” bilateral consultations have been further expedited centering around the Director-General level meetings as a major channel.

Minister Kishida and I held an intensive round of consultations today, based on the results of the consultations held through various channels, including yesterday’s 12th Director-General level meeting.

As a result, we have been able to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides. So, here today, we would like to announce the results of our meeting today.

First, Minister Kishida will state the position of the Government of Japan on today’s agreement on behalf of the Government of Japan, and then, I will share with you the position of the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Minister Kishida:

The issue of “comfort women” has been intensively discussed so far between Japan and Korea, including through the Director-General level meetings. Based on those outcomes, the Government of Japan states the following.

The issue of “comfort women” was a matter which, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. In this regard, the Government of Japan painfully acknowledges its responsibility. Prime Minister Abe, in his capacity as Prime Minister of Japan, expresses anew sincere apologies and remorse from the bottom of his heart to all those who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as “comfort women.” The Government of Japan has been seriously dealing with this issue, and on the basis of such experience, will take measures with its own budget to heal the psychological wounds of all the former “comfort women.”

More specifically, the Government of the Republic of Korea will establish a foundation for the purpose of providing assistance to the former “comfort women.” The Government of Japan will contribute from its budget a lump sum funding to this foundation. The Governments of Korea and Japan will cooperate to implement programs to restore the honor and dignity and to heal the psychological wounds of all the former “comfort women.” Along with what was stated above, the Government of Japan confirms that through today’s statement, this issue will be finally and irreversibly resolved on the condition that the above-mentioned measures are faithfully implemented. Also, the Government of Japan, along with the Government of the Republic of Korea, will refrain from mutual reprobation and criticism in international forums, including at the United Nations in the future.

Regarding the above-mentioned budgetary measure, the expected amount will be around 1 billion Yen. What I have stated is the outcome of consultations held under the instruction of the leaders of both countries, and I am confident that Japan-Korea relations will thereby enter a new era.

Minister Yun:

Now, I would like to state the position of the Government of the Republic of Korea on today’s agreement. The issue of “comfort women” has been intensively discussed so far between Korea and Japan, including through the Director-General level meetings. Based on those outcomes, the Government of Korea states the following.

The Government of the Republic of Korea takes note of the statement by the Government of Japan and the measures leading up to the statement, and, along with the Government of Japan, confirms that through today’s statement, this issue will be finally and irreversibly resolved on the condition that the above-mentioned measures stated by the Government of Japan are faithfully implemented. The Government of the Republic of Korea will cooperate in the measures to be taken by the Government of Japan.

The Government of the Republic of Korea is aware of the concern of the Government of Japan over the memorial statue placed in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul with respect to the maintenance of the peacefulness and respectability of its mission, and will make efforts to appropriately address the concern, including through consultations with relevant groups on possible responses.

The Government of the Republic of Korea, along with the Government of Japan, will refrain from mutual reprobation and criticism in international forums, including at the United Nations in the future, on the condition that the measures stated by the Government of Japan are faithfully implemented.

This concludes the position of the Government of the Republic of Korea.

I am very pleased to announce here today that, working together, Minister Kishida and I have finally wound up the long and difficult negotiations on this issue before the end of this year, the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan.

I sincerely hope that the measures to follow up on today’s agreement will be faithfully implemented and thereby restore the honor and dignity and heal the psychological wounds of the victims who have had to endure so many years of agony.

It is also my sincere desire that, with the conclusion of the negotiations on the “comfort women” issue, the most challenging and difficult issue over history between Korea and Japan, we will be able to open a new chapter in the Korea-Japan relations in the new year with a new spirit of cooperation.

Thank you. /END/


In a communiqué posted by Japan´s Foreign Affairs Ministry, we read that:

Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting December 28, 2015

On December 28, commencing from around 2:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m., Mr Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, held a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Mr Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK), and announced about the issue of comfort women at the press occasion held after the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as follows.

1.

(1) Foreign Minister Kishida announced as follows.

The Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between Japan and the ROK at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of Japan, state the following:

(i) The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the Government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective. As Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

(ii) The Government of Japan has been sincerely dealing with this issue. Building on such experience, the Government of Japan will now take measures to heal psychological wounds of all former comfort women through its budget. To be more specific, it has been decided that the Government of the ROK establish a foundation for the purpose of providing support for the former comfort women, that its funds be contributed by the Government of Japan as a one-time contribution through its budget, and that projects for recovering the honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds of all former comfort women be carried out under the cooperation between the Government of Japan and the Government of the ROK.

(iii) While stating the above, the Government of Japan confirms that this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government will steadily implement the measures specified in (ii) above. In addition, together with the Government of the ROK, the Government of Japan will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community, including at the United Nations.

(2) Foreign Minister Yun announced as follows.

The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Government of Japan have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between the ROK and Japan at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of the ROK, state the following:

(i) The Government of the ROK values the GOJ’s announcement and efforts made by the Government of Japan in the lead-up to the issuance of the announcement and confirms, together with the GOJ, that the issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures specified in 1. (1) (ii)above. The Government of the ROK will cooperate in the implementation of the Government of Japan’s measures.

(ii) The Government of the ROK acknowledges the fact that the Government of Japan is concerned about the statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul from the viewpoint of preventing any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity, and will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner through taking measures such as consulting with related organizations about possible ways of addressing this issue.

(iii) The Government of the ROK, together with the Government of Japan, will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community, including at the United Nations, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures it announced.

2. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Kishida announced that the amount of budget contributed to the foundation would be approximately one billion yen.

3. In addition, both sides exchanged views briefly about the Japan-ROK cooperation in the fields of security and other various issues between the two countries.

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