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S Korea to Propose Talks With Japan Over ‘Comfort Women’

S Korea to Propose Talks With Japan Over 'Comfort Women'

An ethnic Chinese girl who served as a "comfort woman" is interviewed by an Allied officer.

South Korea plans to propose talks with Japan over women coerced by the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy to serve as sex slaves during World War II. This comes after a ruling from South Korea’s constitutional court ruled that the government had violated the women’s rights by making no effort to take on Japan over its refusal to compensate them.

There is no consensus as to the number of women Japan forced into prostitution, but 200,000 is the most commonly quoted number, based on the work of historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi, the first academic to study the issue who placed the number between 50,000 and 200,000. Japanese revisionist historians claim the numbers are as low as 10,000 to 20,000, and that the coercion of women into sexual slavery was not sanctioned by the government.

In 2007, U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, D-Calif., a Japanese-American who spent part of his childhood in an internment camp, called on Japan to accept full responsibility on the issue and apologize. Tokyo voted down Honda’s resolution, and the Japan embassy in the U.S. stated that the resolution was erroneous and would be harmful to the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

The Japanese mainstream, and right-wing, in particular, seem to think that wartime “comfort women” are only pressing the issue because they want monetary compensation. They claim the numbers are inflated and the claims of abuse exaggerated. Tokyo has skirted responsibility in the matter by apologizing, but insisting that the offenses were committed by private individuals, and were not state-sponsored. Given Japan’s previous stated responses to the issue, I don’t think South Korea will accomplish much from these proposed talks.

In my opinion as an outside observer, it seems that Japan is deliberately dragging its feet on the issue, knowing that the problem will eventually die out. Unfortunately, since the few wartime “comfort women” who are alive today are in their 70s or older, Japan may be right.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]