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World is watching the announcement on verification of Kono Statement

World is watching the announcement on verification of Kono Statement

Posted June. 16, 2014 05:18,   


The Japanese government will submit a report verifying the Kono statement to the Diet this week at the earliest. The Kono Statement was released by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in August 1993, in which the Japanese government admitted and apologized that women, many Koreans, were forced to serve in the military service brothels. Depending on the result of the verification, which was conducted with closed doors despite the opposition of Korea, the Korea-Japan relationship might be deadlocked. The Abe administration should seriously consider ways that can lead the bilateral relationship in a future-oriented manner rather than using sophistry that would be laughed at by the international community.

According to Japan’s Kyodo news agency, the verification report contains that some wordings of the Kono Statement are the result of coordination between both countries. For example, the recruiters of comfort women were stated as “recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military” because Seoul wanted to revise it to “recruiters who acted in response to the order of the military” from “recruiters who acted in response to the intention of the military” in the draft. The purpose of the report is to specify the process of the creation of the statement after both countries adjusted wordings, but this could distort the historical background of the Kono Statement and the efforts of the Korean and Japanese governments.

The Korean government asked the Japanese government to study the existence of “comfort women” and facts in 1991, and heard 16 testimonies of 16 former comfort women who Tokyo could trust. After the study, the Kono Statement was released, saying, “The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their (comfort women’s) recruitment, transfer, control, etc., were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion, etc.” Former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara who led the study said to this newspaper in July 2013, “It is certain that the Japanese military recruited them forcibly.”

If Prime Minister Abe tries to change the Kono Statement now, it will only highlight that Japan cannot be trusted and is behind in human rights issues. The more Japan criticizes the comfort women issue, the more attention and criticism it will draw from the international community including the U.S. and Europe. Abe should ruminate on why his predecessors such as former Prime Minister Miyazawa and Murayama admitted Japan’s past wrongdoings to improve the Korea-Japan relationship. Rather than making lame excuses, Tokyo should admit that it abused the comfort women’s human rights and compensate for them. An upcoming announcement would make it clear what is Abe’s real intension and why he insisted on verifying the statement.