South Korean university students and aged onetime comfort women pose for a group photo at the statue depicting a young Korean girl located near the Ewha Womans University in Seoul, symbolic of the so-called “comfort women” forced to sexually service Japanese troops during the World War II. (file photo)
BEIJING, Jan. 9 (ChinaMil) -- The Japanese government must change its wrong position and sincerely apologize to the world and victimized countries and reflect on itself, which is the key to resolving the "comfort women" problem. This is the right way to sincerely request the forgiveness of neighboring countries, solve the leftover problems by the war and unload the historical burden.
The South Korean civic group " Committee of Youth for Erecting a Peace Monument " held the unveiling ceremony of a statue depicting a young Korean “comfort woman” on December 31, 2016 in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Busan. This is the 37th "comfort woman" statue in South Korea.
On January 6, Japan's Chief Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga announced to recall the ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine and general consulate in South Korea's Busan, further escalating the dispute between the two countries over this problem.
“Conform women” were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of women lost their personal freedom and were enslaved, and many of them lost their lives.
The "comfort women" issue is a national war crime committed by Japan. The Japanese government has concealed the fact, refused to acknowledge the historical crimes committed, and refused to apologize and make compensation. As a result, the "comfort women" problem has yet to be resolved, and becomes an important leftover problem of the war.
In August 1993, the Japanese government issued the "Kono Statement" after preliminary investigation, admitting that the Japanese army was involved in the "comfort women" conscription and the establishment of comfort stations; the "comfort women" problem has seriously injured many women's reputation and dignity; and the Japanese government sincerely apologizes for the pain and injury that the "comfort women" have experienced.
Pity is that many subsequent Japanese governments failed to follow the correct path, but refused, denied and even denounced the historical facts, by publicly denying their responsibility for the "comfort women" issue, which led to opposition and protest around the world.
In 2007 during the first cabinet of Abe's office, the United States House of Representatives, the Canadian Parliament, the European Parliament, the Dutch Parliament, the South Korean National Assembly and a number of other international organizations passed resolutions condemning Japanese government and urging its introspection and apology because of Abe’s taking the lead in denying Japan’s crime for forcing women into sex slavery.
However, the Japanese government and dignitaries did not change their erroneous position, and even threatened to revise or cancel the "Kono Statement."
At the same time, the Japanese right-wings distort, cover, suppress, or obliterate the history of the "comfort women", which throw them in infamy: in Japan, the Japanese right-wings once threatened the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace, a Japanese civil society, to bomb their venues; the Japanese government once resorted to "soft violence" of denying contributions to coerce the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to refuse to enlist "comfort women" history in the Memory of the World Register.
On December 28, 2015, after lightning-speed negotiations, Japan announced Japan and South Korea had reached an "irreversible" “comfort women” problem-solving agreement at the price of 1 billion yen.
Japan also repeatedly exerted pressure on South Korea to remove the "comfort women" statue to the opposite of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. This verbal agreement (no published written form is available till today), with no recognition of Japan's national legal responsibility or any profound reflection or apology, has been strongly opposed by South Korean public and a large number of people including a considerable number of survivors. Protests on Wednesdays held in front of the Japanese embassy to South Korea have also been intensified.
In fact, whoever started the trouble should end it. A fundamental solution to the problem of the statue erected before the Japanese embassies and consulates and the problem of “comfort women” depends on the Japanese government which must change its wrong position, sincerely apologize to the world and victim countries, reflect on itself, educate its people with the correct conception of history, and promise not to renege or quibble. This is the right way to sincerely request the forgiveness of neighboring countries, solve the leftover problems by the war and unload the historical burden.
In fact, the erection of the new statue in Busan is not an isolated event. On December 29, 2016, the Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada openly visited the Yasukuni Shrine after his silent tribute to the United States National Memorial of the Pacific in Hawaii, which is a great irony to the “tour of reconciliation” of Abe to Hawaii.
If the Japanese government cannot change its course and abandon the wrong view of history, I am afraid that statues symbolizing victims of "comfort women" will mushroom in the world. Japan, who refuses to recognize history, and deliberately distorts the history, will only suffer a lower and lower image in the international community.
Written by Su Zhiliang, director of the Research Center for Chinese Comfort Women, Shanghai Normal University, and curator of Nanjing Museum of the Site of Lijixiang Comfort Stations.