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Controversy over 2015 comfort women deal

Posted December. 29, 2017 07:59,   

Updated December. 29, 2017 08:20


South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that the 2015 comfort women deal with Japan was seriously flawed in its process and content, and urged follow-up measures as soon as possible. “I want to make it clear once again that the agreement cannot solve the ‘comfort women’ issue even though it is an official agreement signed between the two governments after ratification,” added President Moon. The government clearly expressed its stance on the deal as Japan protested strongly against the result of the review on the so-called 2015 comfort women deal by the foreign ministry’s task force.

Japan’s reaction is excessive even if the announcement made by the TF undermined the trust between the two countries by discrediting the agreement. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Thursday that any attempt to revise the 2015 deal would make relations “unmanageable” practically in a threatening tone and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the agreement “will not be changed by even one millimeter.”

Koreans are very sensitive to the issue of comfort women. Japan should feel sorry by the fact that Korea tried to solve the problem in order to restore normal diplomatic relations for future-oriented cooperation between Korea and Japan. It was the Japanese government that antagonized many Koreans, right after signing the agreement, by unilaterally arguing that the Korean government agreed to move the peace statute established in front of the Japanese embassy in Korea. It has consistently denied the existence of comfort women, let alone giving a sincere apology, and insisted that the issue is a done deal now that it provided 1 billion yen to a fund. Against this backdrop, it is absurd for them to talk about Korea-Japan relations when the Korean government has not even declared to scrap or renegotiate the deal.

We all know that cooperation among Korea, the United States and Japan is very important in solving the North Korean nuclear crisis. It is not in our interest if the relations with Japan become sour at a time when the Korea-China relations have been strained over the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). This is why the TF was cautions about making the announcement regarding the comfort women deal. The Japanese government, which is well aware of this fact, should have reviewed ways to consult with the Korean government and complement the agreement, if needed. Instead, Japan acted so arrogant by saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may not attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. This is like rubbing salt into the wounds. If Japan acts like it does not care about Korea-Japan relations, there is no reason for us alone to mend the strained relations.