Deal or No Deal

On March 2, 2016, AICGS and Asia Policy Point will host a roundtable discussion for the media with scholars on the history and politics of the “comfort women.”  The scholars will examine Japan’s claims regarding comfort women and discuss whether Japan’s recent agreement with South Korea is viable.

On December 28, 2015, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea issued a joint statement on “comfort women.” In the December statement, Japan acknowledges “an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time” and offered Prime Minister Abe’s “sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.” The statements committed the Japanese government to contributing to a fund to assist surviving South Korean former “comfort women.” South Korea pledged to refrain from discussing the comfort women issue in public and, possibly, to remove from the entrance of the Japanese embassy in Seoul a statue symbolizing the comfort women.

The joint statement is to ensure that “this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly.” Nevertheless, the December 28th statement reflects no known written agreement. It will also not be approved by the Japanese Cabinet, and, thus, will exist in the same legal limbo as the Kono Statement, a 1993 apology to the comfort women. Questions remain when the funds to support the South Korean comfort women will be delivered, whether the survivors will accept it, and whether there will remain any survivors. In addition, the agreement is not applicable to all the other survivors throughout Asia (at least 27 nationalities) who were forced into becoming comfort women.

Also of concern is the Japanese Government’s statement on February 16th to the meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that no documentation exists describing the forcible taking of women; that the women were not sex slaves, but willing prostitutes; and that the Japanese military was not responsible for recruitment. This presentation reflected the statements of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Diet on January 18th.

The scholars and researchers in the roundtable will be in Washington to participate in a series of seminars and briefings on the history of the non-Korean comfort women in Imperial Japan’s sex slave system. In addition to private briefings on Capitol Hill and a private screening of the Song of the Reed, a documentary on Taiwanese comfort women, hosted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Organization (TECRO), they will speak at the following:

UNFINISHED APOLOGIES: IMPERIAL JAPAN’S SEX SLAVES OF WARTIME ASIA
March 1st, 2016
8:30 am – 3:00 pm
Location: SAIS, Johns Hopkins, Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Click here for more information

RESEARCHING AND DOCUMENTING THE COMFORT WOMEN HISTORY
March 3rd, 2016
12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Elliott School, George Washington University, 1957 E Street, NW, Lindner Commons, Room 602
Click here for more information

For further information and a link to the registration, please contact Asia Policy point at asiapolicyhq@gmail.com.