Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#488(Special)】A Nuisance Review of Comfort Women Accord

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2018.01.04 (Thu)

December 28, 2017

     On December 27, the South Korean foreign minister’s task force for reviewing the comfort women agreement with Japan on December 28, 2015, released its report describing the result of the review. After reading the full text in Korean language, I found that it mixes domestic political wrangling with diplomacy and is a nuisance to Japan.

Using diplomacy for domestic political wrangling
     The report makes four negative points on the agreement: (1) the agreement failed to fully reflect opinions of former comfort women; (2) former President Park Geun Hye’s policy of holding no summit talks with Japan without progress in resolving the comfort women issue deteriorated the bilateral relations; (3) secret talks were held and the agreement’s unpublished portion included some burden on South Korea; and (4) there was “lack of communications” among the president, negotiators and the foreign ministry.
     All these points represent Seoul’s internal problems, rather than any defect in diplomatic negotiations. In an accurate rebuttal to the report, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the agreement was made through the two governments’ legitimate negotiations that had no problems.
     Particularly, the second through fourth points mirror the Moon Jae In government’s criticism against the former government’s management of state affairs. Among them, the fourth point represents South Korean media’s reiterated criticism that former President Park Geun Hye “lacked communications,” having no true aide and using written documents for almost all interactions. The same expression was used in the official report by the organization under direct control of the foreign minister. Japan should ignore the second through fourth points as the present South Korean government is taking advantage of diplomacy for domestic political wrangling.
     The first point that the agreement failed to fully reflect former comfort women’s opinions is simply wrong. By December 27, 2017, 36 of the 47 former comfort women surviving at the time of the agreement each received or agreed to receive 100 million won (about $90,000) from a foundation funded by the Japanese government, as the task force report made clear. In addition, relatives of 68 of the 199 deceased former comfort women each received or agreed to receive 20 million won (about $18,000) from the foundation. The fact that about 80% of the survivors have received money from Japan indicates that a majority of former comfort women have accepted the agreement.

Leading supporters are pro-Pyongyang
     The report also reiterates that the government should hear opinions not only from former comfort women but also from their supporters. A leading supporting organization is the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. An Byeong Jik, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, who interviewed former comfort women in cooperation with the council in the early 1990s several years before criticizing and separating from the council, has concluded that the council aims at deteriorating Japan-South Korea relations instead of protecting human rights of former comfort women. As many ultra-left activists sympathetic to North Korea are among the council’s executives, it will be fruitless for Japan to show sincerity on the comfort women issue from the viewpoint of women’s human rights.
     Japan should continue to demand South Korea’s implementation of the agreement and ignore the Moon government’s possible abolition of the agreement or its request for new diplomatic talks on the comfort women issue.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.