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Murayama takes a jab at Abe over comfort women

Posted August. 20, 2013 04:44,   


Tomiichi Murayama, a former Japanese Prime Minister, said in an interview on comfort women under the Japanese rule or enforced sex slaves with the Dong-A Ilbo, “(The Japanese government) should admit the Kono Statement.” He stressed that Seoul and Tokyo should talk over the comfort women issue in a responsible manner and come to a conclusion anyway.” He also criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who did not make an apology for Japan’s colonial rule and invasion over Asian countries including Korea and China at the memorial service for the war dead on August 15 unlike previous Japanese Prime Ministers.

In the “Kono Statement,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono of the Kiichi Miyazawa cabinet admitted the mobilization of enforced sex slaves for Japanese soldiers and made an apology to the victims on August 4, 1993. Kono admittedly said, “The comfort place was installed by the request of the military authorities, and the former Japanese forces were involved in the installation and management of the places and the transportation of comfort women.” On August 15, 2005, the former prime minister released the “Murayama Statement” in which he regretted and apologized for Japan’s colonial rule and invasion into Asia. He apparently took a jab at Prime Minister Abe who actually denies the Kono Statement and said, “There is no direct evidence that the Japanese forces took comfort women forcibly.”

Prime Minister Abe will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month that Tokyo will donate funds to the UN Women funds for the victims of sexual assaults in disputed areas. His address at the U.N. seems to be a response to a growing criticism over Japan from the world over the comfort women issue. Only about two decades ago when the Murayama Statement and the Kono Statement were released, the comfort women issue used to be a matter of Korea and other victimized countries. Now, it seems to be highlighted as universal human rights issue. It remains to be seen whether the international community will accept Japan’s idea that it will support the victims of sexual assaults in other countries while denying the historical fact that the Japanese forces mobilized comfort women forcibly.

Korea and Japan share a free democracy and a market economy, and cooperation in many areas including diplomacy and economy is in the interest of both countries. Instead of causing conflicts by refuting every single move in Japan, Korea sometimes needs to be bolder. If Japan continues to turn away from its invasive history and adds salt to the victims’ injury, however, a true cooperative relationship cannot be expected. Japan should know that a sincere apology for the comfort women and its past history helps Japan in the long run.