Thursday, December 15, 2011

1000th Wednesday Protest, and Lies about Comfort Women by Imperial Japan Apologists

As the Korean discussed previously, there was the 1000th Wednesday Protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul this past Wednesday. At the protest, there was an unveiling of a statue, commemorating the Comfort Women.

The statue is a statue of a girl sitting down. There is an empty chair next to the girl,
so that visitors may sit next to her and look toward the Japanese Embassy. There is
also a plaque, in Korean, English and Japanese, that describe the significance of the statue
(source)
True to form, the Japanese Embassy protested the statue, stating that the statue was "extremely regrettable," and asked it to be removed. Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied: "Rather than insisting on the removal of the statue, the Japanese government should seriously ask itself why these victims have held their weekly rallies for 20 years, never missing a week, and whether it really cannot find a way to restore the honor these woman so earnestly want.”

On this occasion, the Korean will address some of the lies and half-truths that Japan apologists propagate, commonly found in prominent sites like Japan Probe and picked up by careless observers like the BBC. In particular, this post will focus on the apologies and reparations aspect, rather than the facts about Comfort Women themselves.

[Addendum, 12/16/2011:  There are additional arguments commonly made by Japan apologists other than the ones listed below, but those arguments are so intellectually worthless that they do not merit a lengthy discussion. Such arguments include:  outright denial of established facts ("There is no evidence that Japanese government coerced these women"); tu quoque ("Korea committed atrocities in Vietnam"); false moral equivalence ("Allied forces also committed atrocities during World War II"); distraction with tenuously related items ("Prostitutes in Korea are treated badly also."). If you want to argue against this piece, please stay away from those types of arguments. It is one thing to be morally depraved by arguing for Japan's position; it is quite another to be morally depraved and stupid.]

1.  Japan already apologized for Comfort Women.

This statement is only technically true, in a sense that the Japanese government mouthed the words of apology. For example, in 1993, in Kono Statement, Japanese government acknowledged that Imperial Japanese military was directly and indirectly involved in recruiting Comfort Women through coercion and trickery. There are several other cases in which Japanese Prime Ministers issued an apology regarding Comfort Women.

However, the point of an apology is to show a genuine change of heart and contrition. An apology is not a license for one to turn around and spit in the face of the person to whom the apology was just issued. An apology is not a credit in the moral bank account, so that one can later make a withdrawal and commit more immoral deeds. Simply mouthing the words and going through the motions are clearly inadequate for anyone with a functional moral compass. In that sense, there are several of reasons to consider the Japanese apologies to be inadequate:

a.  Each apology was carefully worded to avoid any legal liability

If you did something bad, you should be ready to accept all consequences, moral and legal. You have to say the right thing and do the right thing also. If you say the right things but fail to do the right things, the words are meaningless and hollow. That is how each one of Japan's apologies on Comfort Women has been structured. Reading carefully, most of the apologies usually say:  "We are sorry this bad thing happened to you," without discussing that it was the Imperial Japan that caused that bad thing. Each one of Japan's apologies regarding Comfort Women was designed for Japan to evade legal responsibility while attempting to absolve its moral responsibility. But morality does not work that way. Even a child would know this.

b.  Subsequent Japanese administrations sought to whitewash the Comfort Women issue

Japan's apologies -- particularly those made in the 1990s, which had greater specificity about its direct responsibility -- was not a result of a nationwide reflection and contrition by Japan. It was issued by an unusually liberal Japanese government, which had a tenuous hold on power. When the conservative block of the Liberal Democratic Party came back in power, the Japanese government quickly displayed the insincerity of its stance on the Comfort Women issue.

In 2007, a group of 120 LDP members sought to water down Kono Statement. Nakayama Nariaki, the leader of that group, said: "Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs and set prices."

Also in 2007, LDP Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (a grandson of a man suspected to be a class-A war criminal, Kishi Nobusuke,) denied that the Imperial Japanese military recruited Comfort Women. Abe only backed off after a stern warning from the U.S. ambassador. Another former Prime Minister, Nakasone Yasuhiro, also denied that the Comfort Women were forcibly recruited. Further, former education minister Nariaki Nakayama declared he was proud that the LDP had succeeded in getting references to "wartime sex slaves" struck from most authorized history texts for junior high schools. Nakayama further said: "It could be said that the occupation was something they could have pride in, given their existence soothed distraught feelings of men in the battlefield and provided a certain respite and order."

(Take a break here, let that last statement sink in for a bit, and appreciate the level of depravity required to make that statement.)

Again, back to the overriding point:  an apology is meaningless when it is mere words mouthed as a formality. Because the subsequent leaders of the Japanese government were ready to go back on its stance on Comfort Women just as soon as the administration changed, there are real reasons to doubt the sincerity of Japan's contrition over Comfort Women.

(More after the jump.)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.



2.  Japan offered reparation for Comfort Women in 1995, but Comfort Women are refusing to accept it.

Two years after Kono Statement, Japanese government established "Asia Women's Fund" to provide compensation for Comfort Women. However, AWF was funded by private donations rather than governmental funding, again in an attempt to shield the Japanese government from legal liability.

Like Kono Statement and other apologies by the Japanese government, the offer from AWF was morally deficient. Accordingly, most Comfort Women refused the payment.

3.  Japan already paid reparation for Comfort Women in 1965, but Korean government diverted the funds.

In 1965, Korea and Japan entered into Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, under which Korean government relinquished individual claims of reparation in exchange of a lump sum payment of $800 million in grants and soft loans. Korean government used the money to fund infrastructure projects, such as a highway between Seoul and Busan. Based on this treaty, Japan apologists argue that the fault lies with Korean government for compensating the Comfort Women. This argument is incorrect, both morally and legally, for the following reasons:

a.  Japan knowingly dealt with a dictator who clearly did not represent the interest of Korean people

Park Chung-Hee was the president who entered into the Basic Treaty with Japan, which makes the legitimacy of the Basic Treaty doubtful in a number of ways. First, Park Chung-Hee was not a democratically elected leader, but a dictator who came to power through a military coup d'etat. Although Park went through the formality of elections, those elections were clearly and heavily rigged. Second, previous to Korea's independence, Park was an officer of the Imperial Japanese military. (Gee, I wonder what he felt about Imperial Japan's war?) Third, when the news of the Basic Treaty broke, there was so much protest against the treaty that the Park dictatorship had to declare a martial law to suppress the opposition. Under the martial law, all schools were closed, citizens were banned from holding meetings, arrests were made without warrants and the government pre-screened newspapers.

Every one of these facts were known to the Japanese government, but the Japanese government dealt with the Park Chung-Hee dictatorship anyway and entered into a treaty that was clearly inadequate to address the injuries suffered at the hands of Japanese Imperialism. (More on this below.)

b.  The reparation amount paid by Japan was grossly inadequate

The amount of $800 million was calculated by paying $200 per survivors of the Japanese conscription and $2000 per those who were injured. In 2011 dollars, that's less than $1,500 and $15,000 per person. A dead dog is worth more than $1,500 in either Japanese or Korean legal system. By the way, Germany pays Holocaust survivors a lifetime pension.

c.  Korean government, in fact, paid out the reparation paid by Japan

It is ridiculous to argue that the fault lies with Korean government, given that the Japanese government could not have possibly expected that the money would go to the hands of the people who suffered under its rule by negotiating a dictator who came to power illegitimately.

But be that as it may, Korean government did pay out the reparation money and then some. In 1975, a decade after the Basic Treaty, Park Chung-Hee dictatorship paid out KRW 300,000 (= around $300) to those eligible for reparation. (At this time, however, Comfort Women were not paid reparation because their existence was not widely known.) After Korea democratized, Korean government paid out KRW 20 million (= around $20,000) to those eligible for reparation in 2006. The amount of reparation, by the way, is much more than what Japan paid as reparation (which, again, was around $1,500 in 2011 dollars.) Former Comfort Women also receive a separate pension from Korean government, far above and beyond anything that Japan has ever provided.

d.  Basic Treaty did not eliminate Comfort Women's claims

Even if we brush aside the monstrously amoral aspect to Japan's position and only concerned ourselves with its legality, Japan's position is on thin ice.

First, internal Japanese documents around the time of the negotiations of the Basic Treaty show that Japan did not intend to extinguish individual claims by entering into the Basic Treaty. Referring to the provision that allegedly waived Korean individuals' right of claim, an internal memorandum from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states:
"By Art. 2 [of the Basic Treaty], parties agree that they will not exercise the right of diplomatic protection, which is a unique right belonging to the state under the international law; it is not the case that individual’s property [which includes claims] was used to satisfy the obligations of the state."
Second, even if the Basic Treaty did attempt to eliminate Comfort Women's claim for reparation, well-established principles of international law say that such attempt is invalid. Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law." Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights likewise states: "Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes . . . [t]o ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy." Because Japan's reparation has been grossly inadequate under the Basic Treaty, Comfort Women were denied of an "effective remedy" guaranteed by established principles of international law.

Another established principle of international law is even more directly on point.  Sub-Commission resolution 1999/16 from UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, titled “Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices”, states at Paragraph 13:
The Sub-Commission . . . [n]otes that the rights and obligations of States and individuals with respect to the violations referred to in the present resolution cannot, as a matter of international law, be extinguished by peace treaty, peace agreement, amnesty or by any other means.
Therefore, even speaking legally, Japanese government cannot argue that the Basic Treaty absolves them from all liabilities to the Comfort Women.

4.  There is nothing Japan can do to satisfy Koreans about Imperial Japan's legacy.

This is simply not true. There are only 63 surviving Comfort Women left. Logistically, it is not difficult at all for the Japanese Prime Minister to pay each one of them a visit, hand-deliver a sincere letter of apology, and vow to provide them with a lifetime pension, identify and punish any surviving Japanese who was responsible, fund a museum and a scholarship dedicated to chronicling the ordeals that they went through, and ensure that Japan's history textbooks accurately depict what happened. The cost of doing this for Japan is minimal. The only thing holding back Japan is the lack of political will. Once these things are done, there is no possible way in which any Korean can protest about the way Japan treats former Comfort Women.

(For a broad action plan with which Japan could finally deal with its colonial legacy once and for all, please refer to this post.)

The Korean would emphasize that this is not "punishing the child for the sins of the parents," as Japan apologists mistakenly argue. No one -- not even the most nationalistic Korean -- is saying that the current generation of Japanese people should be punished as if they themselves committed this horrendous crime. (If there were the case, Koreans would be calling for every Japanese people to be put in jail for life. Obviously, such movement does not exist in Korea.) All Koreans want is for (1) Japanese government to unequivocally admit what its country did in the past; (2) former Comfort Women to be adequately compensated in their short remaining lives, and; (3) Japanese people to fully understand the crimes of its predecessors. None of the above is a punishment. Rather, it is a normal course of action that any decent human would take. In fact, it is the least Japan can do. The battle here is not Japan versus Korea -- it is Japan versus justice, Japan versus human decency.

That Japan is obstinately refusing to take this course is deeply troubling, because I love Japan. The greatest influences of my life include Japanese movies and cartoons. I love visiting Japan. I love Japanese food. The Japanese people I know are wonderful, kind, artistic, gritty and civic-minded people, worthy of deep admiration. But the longer this takes, I cannot draw myself away from this appalling conclusion:  Japan, as a whole, does not think it did anything wrong to these women. I desperately want to believe that the Japanese people are not amoral monsters, who would rather play the cynical waiting game until all of the former Comfort Women die away. But each time the Wednesday protesters are turned away, each time the Japanese Embassy protests a statue commemorating the Comfort women, my faith in human decency, common among all people of all places and times, gets chipped away little by little.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

59 comments:

  1. I am concerned that Japan may attempt to take the amoral route and try to say that they legally have no obligation on effective remedies because this was transferred by Article 2 of the Basic Treaty - and yet the victims are not deprived of the right to a competent national tribunal or an extinction of the obligation altogether, since the Republic of Korea has inherited the obligation and must provide the competent national tribunals.

    I would hope that, if nothing else, at least the inability of the ROK to apprehend and punish (and perhaps even identify) the Japanese aggressors would be interpreted to mean that the ROK is unable to provide a competent national tribunal (at least for Comfort Women). This in turn would mean Japan must be forced to handle the issue directly with its own national tribunals and so on, in order to comply with international law.

    OTOH, it might be a moot point altogether, considering the MoFA memo about individual claims.

    I just wanted someone to explicitly spell out that, under international law, this kind of obligation can not be transferred but must be handled by the original aggressor state.

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  2. This sends me into one of those kind of black rages where I'm too offended even to think straight. The willingness to just ignore those things that are wrong and unpleasant and corrupt in the hopes that they just go away is one of the things that rubbed me wrong when I lived in Japan. It's one of those things that's hard to notice at first, but by the end of my three years there, it was something I had identified as a sore point. In an extreme sense, victims are expected to suffer in silence, because it's impolite to expect others to help.

    They have a phrase "仕方がない" or "shikata ga nai" which means "nothing can be done about it", or "it can't be helped" which is often used as a catch-all excuse to ignore situations or things that are difficult to change. It has its practical uses, rather like the English "What's done is done."

    However, as we see carried out in the denial of responsibility or admittance toward these abused women, there is an awful proclivity toward using this "nothing can be done about it" as a means to shirk the moral responsibility of even a proper apology. It's possibly one of the larges black marks on Japan's history and present. This desire, seemingly to endure with their hands over their eyes and ears until all the victims have passed away, shirking legal and moral responsibility because it's uncomfortable, shows a lack of compassion that strips away any appearance of humanity in those who believe it is not Japan's responsibility to apologize.

    No compensation CAN be made to these women for what they have suffered then and now, but ignoring it is not the way to show sincere regret. Even if members of the Japanese government do feel sincere regret--which I believe some must; they're human, after all--I doubt they'll ever apologize. No one wants to be the first to step out of line, the first to admit to being wrong. That's a fast way to lose a job.

    Japan is a second home to me, and I love so much about it, but I have very little respect for anyone who tries to make excuses for Imperial Japan, or revise history, or deny that these horrendously misused women deserve apology and so much more.

    No one is accusing the current government of committing the act, but the refusal to apologize or admit the degree of atrocity--even sugar-coat and glorify it in school--seems to be sanctioning it instead.

    No one deserves to be raped. No one deserves to be cast off because he or she was raped. No one deserves the torture these women have endured, and continue to endure, for the lack of even the catharsis of admittance and apology.

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  3. I don't get it. If the Japanese government has allegedly apologized and admitted what happened to the comfort women, then what is the problem with the statue? Don't Koreans have the right to pay tribute? It seems to me the only possible reason to protest would be if Japan still wasn't admitting that they existed, and that what happened to them really happened.

    The nerve of that. Really.

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  4. I was wrong. I looked up the original treaty (the English version, since that's the controlling one) and Article II only says that both sides confirm that issues have already been settled. Not transferred.

    Additionally, the only reference in Article II i could find that might even remotely refer to individual claims was the usage of "High Contracting Parties and its people" - but in the English language the use of people in that manner simply refers to a population as political body without explicitly recognizing a sovereign state or government. (E.g. the "people of Taiwan" in the Taiwan Relations Act.) Since Korea was not a sovereign state during colonization and for a period of time had no national government of its own, this usage makes sense.

    I find the argument (used in Japan Probe) that Japan could not directly involve itself to be disingenuous. Treaties can be renegotiated. If Japan doesn't want to do that, it is because Japan does not want to do that, not because Japan is unable to do so. In any case, the Basic Treaty only prevents Japan from raising a claim. There's nothing that prevents Japan from attempting to assume legal responsibility (as it should do).

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  5. To be fair, I didn't find many people defending its actions when I lived there. But, as LSH says, there is the "shikata ga nai" issue.

    (Now, my Japanese studies advisor back in the States... Hoo boy. Made even more fun by my (neutral and pragmatic) undergrad thesis on the Liancourt Rocks dispute.)

    I think part of the issue is that Japan has generally been run by the LDP, which tends to be rather more to the right. Things have been very slowly changing with the DPJ, but they've got their own issues.

    But how do you create the political will? My concern is that protests like these may only cause the right-wing elements in the government to circle the wagons, preventing any useful progress. The DPJ isn't the strongest as is, so even those that agree may prefer to simply ignore the issue and avoid a political fight.

    I do have to disagree, though, with your conclusion that Japan as a whole doesn't think it did anything wrong. That may (for the most part) be the government's stance, and it may be the stance of vocal right-wingers, but very few Japanese people I know think Japan did nothing wrong.

    (And yeah, still love Japan despite its issues; looking forward to interning there this summer. The US has more than a few of its own problems, too.)

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  6. The only possible positive (and positive in the sense of "salvaging any sense of human dignity") spin I can put on Japan's continued shun of the comfort women is that the whole ordeal is so embarrassing for them that they'd rather willfully ignore it instead of acknowledge the wrong-doing of their predecessors and make any attempt to provide *real* compensation. I can sort of understand it as a face-saving move, but we're not talking about that time you talked shit about your boss at the company New Year's party. Face is no longer an issue here, there's things like human fucking decency that are far more important.

    And that's the BEST, most GENEROUS way to interpret the Japanese government's stance. Otherwise I also have to descend into a black rage where I get blitzed on makgeolli and puke on the steps of the embassy (and leave flowers at the feet of the statue).

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  7. Are there in existence any documents or evidence that shows that this atrocity was in any way planned or instigated by the Japanese government of the time?

    In the case of the Nazis, there is overwhelming evidence that the government instigated, planned, and was responsible for carrying out the holocaust.

    While I agree in spirit with what you have written, I find it difficult to understand your position regarding this idea of a nationwide reflection and contrition of the Japanese.

    I find it naive and counter-productive - how do you calculate the appropriate amount of contrition that will satisfy everyone?

    The German people showed contrition partly because they were occupied by 4 militaries, 3 of which were their only defence against the communist totalitarian nightmare offered by the 4th. Of course, they were contrite!

    The situation in Asia was different because all of the powers involved in the fighting had at some point committed atrocities against the local populations of Asia.

    The American army in the Phillipines, the British and their opium, not to mention French and Dutch atrocities in Indo-China and Indonesia, respectively, had all exploited and murdered Asians. The western occupying forces simply lacked the moral upper-ground for them to insist that the Japanese show contrition in the same way that they were able to in the case of the Nazis.

    Furthermore, in post-war Asia both the Dutch and the French engaged in brutal wars to reassert their own colonial power - assisted by the British and Americans, they re-armed the Japanese to help them quell independence movements.

    The point is, that the moral arguments will always fail because you can't apply a universal moral condition to only one group of people, while overlooking the same moral infringements comitted by others. If you hold Japan to this moral standard, then you have to hold every western colonial power to the same standard - let's see how that would work out!

    I think that a more constructive approach should be more forward looking and be presented as a way to build bridges and even convince the Japanese how addresing this problem would be as beneficial to them as it is to the victims.

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  8. Are there in existence any documents or evidence that shows that this atrocity was in any way planned or instigated by the Japanese government of the time?

    Yes. For example, here.

    how do you calculate the appropriate amount of contrition that will satisfy everyone?

    Are you telling me that Japan is currently showing an appropriate amount of contrition by ignoring the Comfort Women's demands and protesting the statue?

    If you hold Japan to this moral standard, then you have to hold every western colonial power to the same standard - let's see how that would work out!

    I hope you know how depraved you sound.

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  9. Joe,

    I do have to disagree, though, with your conclusion that Japan as a whole doesn't think it did anything wrong. That may (for the most part) be the government's stance, and it may be the stance of vocal right-wingers, but very few Japanese people I know think Japan did nothing wrong.

    That's one way to put it, and that is fair also. If one gets down to individual level, it is probably more accurate to say that most Japanese people are simply not aware of the issue rather than actively think that Japan did nothing wrong.

    But, as a democratic polity, Japan as a country is capable of taking a collective position. And right now Japan's collective position against Comfort Women is grossly inadequate, and the Japanese people are failing to address it. So as a whole, Japan is right now demonstrating that it does not think it did anything wrong.

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  10. FarFromKorea,

    The Comfort Women actually did pursue a legal action in Japan. But the Japanese courts denied the claim, arguing that the Basic Treaty extinguished their individual rights.

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  11. "But, as a democratic polity, Japan as a country is capable of taking a collective position. And right now Japan's collective position against Comfort Women is grossly inadequate, and the Japanese people are failing to address it. So as a whole, Japan is right now demonstrating that it does not think it did anything wrong."

    I don't think it's fair to say that Japan "as a whole" thinks that way, when the majority of the people in Japan have likely never learned about the issue thanks to the government which refuses to see that they fucked up big time (to put it lightly).

    Otherwise I agree with your post. I try hard to educate fellow Japanese folks about the matter; for the most part they're receptive and surprised to see that it is such a major issue.

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  12. One cannot help but feel that the Japanese government is hoping to stall for as long as possible on this issue: the survivors are mostly in their 80s, and there are less and less of them left alive every year.
    These women deserve nothing but respect, praise and support.

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  13. I don't think it's fair to say that Japan "as a whole" thinks that way, when the majority of the people in Japan have likely never learned about the issue . . .

    Put it this way: right now, Japan is clearly taking a collective action against the Comfort Women. When the Japanese Embassy protests the statue, that is done in the name of Japan, not of the official who delivers the message. Then who is responsible for that collective action? Ultimately, in a democratic country, that responsibility lies collectively with the people.

    It has been 20 years since this issue made news. There have been media campaigns in Japan on this issue also. There have been lawsuits, there have been governmental debates on this issue. Yet the majority of Japanese, as you say, never learned about this issue. How? Without willful blindness, how is this possible? Is there any American who does not know about African American slavery? Is there any German who does not know about the Nazis and the Holocaust? Yet that improbable situation is what we have in Japan now. This is not just one person's fault or just one group's fault. It is an indictment against Japan as a whole.

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  14. After the tsunami and watching the heartfelt charity given by the Korean people to Japan, compared to what little China offered, the Japanese people didn't seem to care. Granted the scale of the devastation probably made the thought of reconciliation between two peoples distant..

    But if the actions speak for themselves, over the course of decades, I think it's very simple:

    Japan couldn't care less about Korea. There are a handful of individual Japanese exceptions, but the paucity of their number proves the statement.

    I didn't think it possible for Koreans to overcome their historical animosity and see the shared humanity with the Japanese, but for a brief period we did. The sentiment however was not returned, it was just met with blank stares.

    I am not a Japanese apologist, I just don't care anymore what they do. Why keep on going back to the same dry well expecting a different response? You can't force or coerce an apology, it won't be genuine. If China continues its rise, Japan will kowtow to them (e.g., the PMs stopped visiting Yakasuni). But it is out of fear of China, not out of any heartfelt regret for Imperial Japan's guilt.

    Also, please be a little kinder to Park Chung-Hee. I know you don't agree with him very much, but do you not think it killed him inside to accept the 1965 treaty? Do you not think he loved Korea as much as you do?

    His friend Park Tae-Joon (recently deceased) said this about POSCO when beginning construction of the first steel mill in Pohang, laying the foundation of Korea's economic growth:

    "We are using the funds from Japan that contain the blood and sweat of our forefathers. If we fail to complete this steel mill... let us all drown ourselves in the East Sea!"

    The 1965 treaty was a bad deal, but it's what Korea could get. However important money is, on its own it will waste away. You need time and good leadership to put it to use. Korea could not waste years or decades for reparations from Japan, when the rest of the world wouldn't lend money to Korea. It could not remain poor while North Korea was stronger and richer at that time.

    I still think PCH deserved what he got with the assassination. But his story is a complex one, and while part villian, he is part Korean hero as well.

    Hopefully the future will be brighter for Korea. A united, rich, free one with opportunities for the next generation available as our parents envisioned for us.

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  15. Are you really a trained legal specialist? If so, then you should have known that the validity of international treaties does not depend on whether country's leadership was "democratically elected" or whether election process was "rigged". International law developed well before democracy became wide-spread. Even now there is a significant number of non-democratic countries which are bound by the norms of international law in exactly the same was as the democratic countries are.

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  16. Are you really a trained legal specialist? If so, then you should have known that the validity of international treaties does not depend on whether country's leadership was "democratically elected" or whether election process was "rigged".

    I discuss the legal arguments, as opposed to moral arguments, in 3(d). So show me where I said that in 3(d).

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  17. Also, please be a little kinder to Park Chung-Hee. I know you don't agree with him very much, but do you not think it killed him inside to accept the 1965 treaty? Do you not think he loved Korea as much as you do?

    NO. He was a dictator who sold out his own country.

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  18. Korean

    Depraved?! That's disappointing.

    At the Wannsee Conference in the early 1940's, representatives of several Nazi government ministries, legal experts, military personnel, and politicians, convened to plan the genocide of the Jews. The Final Solution itself was planned by Himmler - one of the highest ranking government offcials of the NAzi regime.

    There is a clear trail of responsibility for the holocaust that makes it almost impossible to deny the culpability of the NAzi government.

    I've seen nothing in the link you provided that shows this same level of government involvement.

    Furthermore, the NAzis were elected to power, whilst the government of Imperial Japan was not. Additionally, under Japanese militarism, political descent was suppressed, the media was tightly controlled, and political opponents were imprisoned, killed, or tortured.

    This is problematic if you seek the degree of contrition from the Japanese people that you seem to require.

    If you insist that Park Chung-Hee - who wasn't democratically elected - cannot represent the Korean people, then how can you claim that the Japanese people should be responsible for the actions of a government that they did not democratically elect. By your reasoning the Japanese people were not represented by their government and thus are not responsible for their actions.

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  19. thank you for your response, however short it was.

    i just lean toward staying w/ the devil you do know versus an unknown and possibly worse one. i do believe the first 10yrs of PCH did kickstart South Korea's development. then again his last 10yrs probably retarded South Korean society. i see parallels of this w/ Vladimir Putin, Pinochet and Lee Kuan Yew. imagine though if South Korea had a Hugo Chavez instead?

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  20. Please, please keep talking APB. I just love it when Japan apologists twist themselves into a knot trying to defend a morally indefensible position. Your position is that it is fine for Japan to make half-assed apologies while attempting to avoid legal liabilities. Keep making that depraved point, please.

    The Final Solution itself was planned by Himmler - one of the highest ranking government offcials of the NAzi regime. . . . I've seen nothing in the link you provided that shows this same level of government involvement.

    So what? Does an action have to come from the highest level of government to be considered "government action"?

    If you insist that Park Chung-Hee - who wasn't democratically elected - cannot represent the Korean people, then how can you claim that the Japanese people should be responsible for the actions of a government that they did not democratically elect.

    This is the same as the bullshit argument that I am trying to punish the children for the sins of their parents. First, the Japanese people today have a democratic government, as did the Japanese people of 1965, Second, Japanese people today clearly are not responsible for the war crimes. They don't deserve to be punished for the war crimes, as in sent to jail. But they don't get to whitewash history or ignore the damages caused by their predecessors either.

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  21. They don't deserve to be punished for the war crimes, as in sent to jail. But they don't get to whitewash history or ignore the damages caused by their predecessors either.

    I agree. That would be like white Americans shoving slavery and racism under the rug and revising textbooks to say that "African American laborers provided the early American South with valuable manpower to sustain a flourishing agricultural economy."

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  22. Korean

    You can be as emotional as you want but I think that you might achieve more by being less emotional and more rational.

    Yes, for an action to be considered a government action, it's necessary for the government to have been involved - isn't that obvious?

    This is the same as the bullshit argument that I am trying to punish the children for the sins of their parents.

    I think if you were less emotional you might have understood this differently.

    You've argued that actions taken by un-elected governments should not be honoured, yet insist that the Japanese are must answer for the actions of their own unelected regime. You can't have it both ways. You've refuted yourself.

    You have offered absolutely no reasonable argument in your post - or subsequent belligerent snipes - that effectively conveys what exactly you want the Japanese to do to show appropriate national reflection or contrition.

    If you are worried that history is not being truthfully served in the Japanese high school, then I plead with you to show me which American - or any European - high school history books make mention of the atrocities of their imperial endeavours in Asia. You won't find much honesty or contrition there either.

    Finally, just to make myself understood, my position is that if you want to successfully convince people to take your side then it's best not to go at them pointing the finger of moral outrage - especially when the atrocities were committed by a government that had also been internally repressive.

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  23. In part, APB's point is difficult to refute. Where APB is wholly logical, AAK's position is obviously an emotional one (as is most Koreans on this issue) and justifiably so. But it debases the argument.

    "Japan already apologized for Comfort Women. This statement is only technically true, in a sense that the Japanese government mouthed the words of apology"

    I had to laugh a little. So a tearful, clothes-rending apology is needed? Or just perhaps a pound of flesh will do? If you're going to equate Japan to a child who said sorry but just "didn't mean it" well, welcome to world at large.

    Now to the more salient points of financial compensation. I totally agree that the Japanese government is hiding behind the 1965 agreement in not providing more financial compensation. It would cost very little and bring Japan a lot of diplomatic currency with Korea. It would be a smart move by Japan.

    Otherwise, APB provides a pretty good argument:

    "If you insist that Park Chung-Hee - who wasn't democratically elected - cannot represent the Korean people, then how can you claim that the Japanese people should be responsible for the actions of a government that they did not democratically elect. By your reasoning the Japanese people were not represented by their government and thus are not responsible for their actions."

    Difficult to refute...Can't have it both ways.

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  24. Eh. I think the issue here is that while the Japanese government might be safe from a legal standpoint, it's still being dickish. Court of public opinion and all that. Hence stuff like this instead of trying to bring them in front of the ICJ. Which has other issues, but still.

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  25. Let me make a prediction here to save everyone some time:

    The Japanese government nor the Japanese people will NEVER feel remorse about Korea and make it a part of their psyche the way Germany did of the Holocaust.

    AskaKorean, of course they should do more. But will they? Only a rising China (or a victorious America with their heel on the neck of Imperial Japan) could force such contrition.

    When I first learned of Comfort Women 13yrs ago, I too was "black with rage". And I am glad they will never be forgotten in Korean society. I am also proud of how Koreans were able to briefly overcome historical animosity and have genuine sympathy for the Japanese people after the tsunami, without an ulterior motive. This showed true humanity, amazing after a tumultuous 20th century.

    Then again if Korea and Japan ever got along longterm, I'd take it as a sign of the apocalypse.

    Finally regardless of where guilt lies between group/societal guilt and individual responsibility (after all it seems the spectrum exists in the world), the outcome is the same. Forget Japan, it's time to move on.

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  26. omg, this is too funny:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uZp-1mPBwk

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  27. This is a very well done summary of the Korean position about the comfort women issue. I'm going to use it a resource when people ask me about it.

    I don't agree with everything here, but it's obviously a very emotional issue. It's good that you provide a list of possible further actions the Japanese government could take on in order to mollify the feelings of Korean people and display sincere contrition, but the question nags me a bit ... would even this be enough?

    I agree that the amounts of compensation were nowhere close to the real damage done, but on the other hand it's impossible to blame the Japanese government for the fact that Korea was a dictatorship and the despots in charge diverted the reparation funds for public works projects.

    It's an historical tragedy and among the vilest of acts of war. Anyone who tries to create apologia or justification should be considered far far beyond the pale.

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  28. APB,

    my position is that if you want to successfully convince people to take your side then it's best not to go at them pointing the finger of moral outrage.

    Based on the reception I am getting, I'm pretty sure moral outrage is doing the job of convincing people to take my side.

    Yes, for an action to be considered a government action, it's necessary for the government to have been involved - isn't that obvious?

    And yes, government has been involved. Wasn't that obvious?

    You've argued that actions taken by un-elected governments should not be honoured, yet insist that the Japanese are must answer for the actions of their own unelected regime. You can't have it both ways. You've refuted yourself.

    Read again what I wrote in the previous comment, this time carefully. Here, I will even quote it for you again: "Second, Japanese people today clearly are not responsible for the war crimes. They don't deserve to be punished for the war crimes, as in sent to jail. But they don't get to whitewash history or ignore the damages caused by their predecessors either."

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  29. I had to laugh a little. So a tearful, clothes-rending apology is needed? Or just perhaps a pound of flesh will do?

    No, just an apology that will stick. You know, the kind that normal people give.

    If you're going to equate Japan to a child who said sorry but just "didn't mean it" well, welcome to world at large.

    I don't know what world you live in, but in my world a real apology involves mere words mouthed.

    Difficult to refute...Can't have it both ways.

    You people really have some reading comprehension problem, huh?

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  30. Korean

    Based on the reception I am getting, I'm pretty sure moral outrage is doing the job of convincing people to take my side.

    Except for the Japanese people you really need to be trying to convince - keep up the good work!

    And yes, government has been involved. Wasn't that obvious?

    Obviously not. Do you have evidence of high level government involvement in planning, or execution?

    But they don't get to whitewash history or ignore the damages caused by their predecessors either.

    Really? According to your reasoning it is not their history, but that of an unrepresentative dictatorship. They, nor their predecessors elected Japan's military government, therefore, according to your line of reasoning they have every right to deny any connection to the actions of said government. Plus, since the treaty between Japan and Hee's government should be void, you should agree that Korea is obliged to return the $800 million dollars received from Japan. Even if the Japanese do stop white-washing history, face Korea and engage in en masse contrite bowing, by your reasoning that still wouldn't make them liable for much else.

    There's nothing in your argument that convincingly offers any motivation for the people of Japan to see your point of view.

    Again, self-righteous, morally outraged finger pointing, is pointless and counter-productive. I'm disappointed that you have eschewed reasonable discourse and opted for a tit-for-tat internet brawl type of approach to those whose opinions differ from yours.

    If only you weren't so blinded by your own moral superiority you might have actually understood that amidst my comments are several indications that I actually agree that Japan should seek resolution of this issue - I just think that your approach won't convince them to do it.

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  31. "Plus, since the treaty between Japan and Hee's government should be void, you should agree that Korea is obliged to return the $800 million dollars received from Japan. "

    haha This is an excellent point!

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  32. Leaving aside all those contradictions in the reasoning of "the Korean", which were so nicely pointed out by other commentators, the issue itself is an important one. And Japan should be more proactive in resolving it than it is now. Otherwise it risks further diplomatic isolation in East Asia, making it easier for China to proceed with its "peaceful development". It must be stressed that there is no need to devise any extra-original ideas here. Japan and other East Asian countries involved in all those historical issues and grievances should just study the example of post-war Germany and how it managed to improve its relations with former enemies likes France and Poland making them into its friends and trusted allies.

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  33. Obviously not. Do you have evidence of high level government involvement in planning, or execution?

    And again, why does it have to be "high level government" to be "government"?

    According to your reasoning it is not their history, but that of an unrepresentative dictatorship. They, nor their predecessors elected Japan's military government, therefore, according to your line of reasoning they have every right to deny any connection to the actions of said government.

    You are mixing up "connection" and "responsibility". I said "responsibility," and you are stretching that to "connection." Try again.

    Plus, since the treaty between Japan and Hee's government should be void, you should agree that Korea is obliged to return the $800 million dollars received from Japan.

    First, it's "Park's" government. Park is the last name.

    Second, rescission is not the only remedy for a void treaty.

    Third, do you seriously think Korea would have any trouble paying back $800 million, should it come to that?

    I am morally outraged because this issue deserves moral outrage. If you do not feel moral outrage on this issue, you are dead inside. So please, keep talking about how you feel no moral outrage, and keep showing the world how little you care.

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  34. One addendum -- the point about PCH's legitimacy is used to discuss the questionable morality of the trety, not the legality of the treaty.

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  35. Ask a Korean, thank you for your comprehensive research on the issue of these abused women. Your post highlighted the importance of their plight on me on many levels.

    APB, I think it's a good thing that you are trying to seek a solution by looking for practical ways to convince the people of Japan to apologize to the victims of their forefathers and previous government.

    You said that you agree in spirit with what The Korean said. What the Comfort Women suffered is beyond words. If you agree with this, you should really take a long look at the dry, unsympathetic tone of your points which seem to focus merely on solving the legal rather than moral problem of the crime against comfort women.

    The heart of your argument seems to be that heartfelt apologies by any national government for past wrongs are both rare and unlikely, regardless of the severity of the moral crime. Hence, the lack of apologies from Western colonial powers, et al. Hence, "s--t happens."

    Truth is, it is unlikely that there will be any reparations in the near future about Allied atrocities against Asians during WWII. It would be "unrealistic" per your argument to demand compensation. In fact, considering the fact that they won the war, it might be hard to find meticulous historical records documenting their crimes.

    Does that mean that the nations and peoples of the aggrieved party should remain silent or just accept whatever "settlements" they manage to get? This seems to be your proposed solution.

    Japan is not ready, per your argument, to take the suggestions the Korean offers to reconcile with Korea on this volatile issue. I'm saying, there's no need to water down the Korean's justifiable moral arguments in order to convince the Japanese to comply.

    Perhaps, as you imply, Holocaust survivors were helped by the "good luck" of Allied Powers' intentional pressure on Germany leading to reparations and recognition of the gravity of the crime committed against them. If the cards hadn't been stacked in their favor, would you tell them to be more realistic and take whatever Germany offered?

    If we follow this analogy, we would see major German politicians denying existence of the Holocaust, the German chancellor visiting historical war memorials which include war criminals Hitler, Himmler, et al. Would you expect the Jewish people to accept monetary compensation while the German government's main leaders continue to deny historical guilt (yes, of course, of their predecessors)? I hope not.

    Lack of emotion is not always good in a moral discussion. You miss the point by ignoring the gravity of crimes committed and the need to confront them, regardless of chances of success.

    By condescendingly lecturing the Korean on being emotional (angry) about Comfort Women, you show no respect and you are being disingenuous if you don't realize how provocative your demand for emotionless discussion is over what is rightfully a moral question.

    You sound like you're able to string an argument, but where's your sense of decency?

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  36. I hope you know how depraved you sound.
    If you do not feel moral outrage on this issue, you are dead inside.
    where's your sense of decency?

    Just because you're discussion an ethical dilemma doesn't mean ad hominem arguments are justified, in fact it just dilutes your point.

    Personally I don't really care if Japan takes responsibility for it's past or apologizes. What bothers me is historical revisionism, where Japan flat out denies it ever happened. Acknowledgement seems more important than apologies and compensations to me.

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  37. Chav, I think you're confusing me with the Korean because of the similarity of our IDs. And if you're going to criticize my argument, please read it as a whole.

    I said, "where is your sense of decency" not to make a personal attack but to criticize APM's method of purely seeking emotionless, "realistic" solutions that do little to satisfy emotionally charged situations like the Comfort women.

    ABM said, "my position is that if you want to successfully convince people to take your side then it's best not to go at them pointing the finger of moral outrage"

    Generally, moral outrage is unlikely to convince your opponent to join you. However moral outrage is sometimes necessary. How else should we respond to statements from Japanese top tier leaders equating brothels to cafeterias? Former Japanese Minister of Education Nakayama said that the Comfort Women should have been proud of their profession (read 1B).

    The Japanese may have made previous apologies, but statements like this from such high level ministers make a mockery of the sincerity of their apology. The solution is not to figure out how to convince obstinate nationalist figures how to give yet another "apology", but to show moral outrage over the insincerity of previous apologies and demand a true change of heart.

    It's not too difficult. The Japanese government should officially apologize on behalf of the previous imperial government to each Comfort Woman and top politicians should comply with the official apology by not backtracking in future statements or trying to erase the crime from the historical record. Like you, that's my beef too.

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  38. While there majority of comfort women were from Korea and China, there were also others from throughout Asia and even some Dutch women.

    Just a quick glance at the wikipedia page on comfort women shows examples from many world governments urging Japan to make a formal apology and take responsibility for its actions.

    If this were just a Korea issue, and if it were just Koreans being "emotional", I doubt that so many nations would make such statements.

    The Japanese wikipedia on comfort women opens by defining comfort women as: women that provided sexual services to Japanese, American, Korean and UN forces in places set up in war areas or around American military bases. And the issue is tied to military prostitution...which I see as different from the comfort women issue.

    Even if we were to give Japan "props" for addressing the issue after WW2, that doesn't give people in Japan the right to demand comfort women from protesting or speaking about what happened to them. An "apology" doesn't erase history...

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  39. Incredible. Surely APB and Piosza's view on the comfort women issue do not represent the popular views in Japan. Because if that's what it is, that is... rather troubling.

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  40. This statue is awesome. Public art at its best.

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  41. It is difficult to confront the details of an atrocity. But it can be far more painful to confront the instigator in a peaceful manner. Yet when the goal is not to defeat your adversary, but to bring them to your way of thinking, the latter is your only option.

    Given AAK's convictions on this issue, I encourage him to invite voices from Japan to help explore the subject more deeply, and to better understand why progress has been so slow.

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  42. It makes me so sad to hear constant denials. I really wish this is something that could be worked out. My friend is Japanese, but I side with Korea on this particular issue. I don't dare bring the topic up or even put 1 of 2 cents in.

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  43. APB,

    As TK stated, there is a lot of evidence that this was planned and carried out by the Imperial Japanese government. Even if it true that the Prime Minister of the time and his subordinates had nothing to do with it and were unaware of it, the Imperial Japanese government as a whole entity is responsible for the actions of lowest level subordinates in the civil government and the military.

    This is the same principle under which TEPCO has to pay out compensation for those who had to abandon their homes over the Fukushima crisis. (BTW, I have not seen any evidence that directly states that the highest level of the Imperial Japanese government was unaware of the sexual slavery under the Japanese Military.)

    Still, I admit that this argument would be strengthened considerably - at least in terms of moral culpability - if the Japanese government had publicly disavowed the actions of those directly responsible for the suffering of the comfort women. It hasn't.

    You also ask "how do you calculate the appropriate amount of contrition that will satisfy everyone", and claim that TK has not answered this. You are wrong, as TK states in his post:

    "There are only 63 surviving Comfort Women left.
    Logistically, it is not difficult at all for the Japanese Prime Minister to pay
    each one of them a visit, hand-deliver a sincere letter of apology, and vow to
    provide them with a lifetime pension, identify and punish any surviving
    Japanese who was responsible, fund a museum and a scholarship dedicated to
    chronicling the ordeals that they went through, and ensure that Japan's history
    textbooks accurately depict what happened."

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  44. APB,

    You said, "If you insist that Park Chung-Hee - who wasn't democratically elected -
    cannot represent the Korean people, then how can you claim that the
    Japanese people should be responsible for the actions of a government that
    they did not democratically elect. By your reasoning the Japanese people
    were not represented by their government and thus are not responsible for
    their actions."

    I think you mean that today's modern democratically elected Japanese government should not be responsible for the actions of the unelected Imperial Japan anymore than today's modern democratically elected Korea should be responsible for the actions of Park Chung Hee's government. (If you really did mean the Japanese people as a whole, not just the government - then TK has already addressed this.)

    This argument is really easy to refute. Morally, what Park did to betray the comfort women was wrong, and the modern Korean government has inherited the responsibility to fix this. Likewise, what the Imperial Japanese government did to the comfort women was morally wrong (or at least its failure to prevent serious wrongdoings by its own employees/soldiers under its control was wrong), and the modern Japanese government has inherited the responsibility to fix this.

    Finally, legally, regardless of fault (for the responsibility of the illegal provisions in the Basic Treaty), the agreement to end individual compensation claims is null and void under international law as TK states. This would be the case even if Park Chung Hee was democratically elected in a fair election and had 100% support from every member of his electorate, the Korean People.

    Your argument is a false dichotomy, that either the actions of both Imperial Japan and Park Chung Hee were valid and should be honored (thus eliminating the claims by the comfort women by the agreement made under Park Chung Hee) or that both were invalid and should be ignored as if they never happened (thus preventing the claims from being allowed to exist). But a third option exists: both actions were wrong, and need to be dealt with in as fair a manner as possible. Park Chung Hee's action (the treaty) is reversible in theory, whereas Imperial Japan's is not (short of history altering time travel), hence the disparity in resolving their outcomes. One can be completely undone, the other can only be compensated for.

    Based on inflation data at http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=200%201965%20dollars%20in%202011&lk=2 the $800 million, if in USD, would today be worth $5,704,520,000 today - or nearly $6 billion. I haven't calculated the cost of TK's compensation plan for comfort women (including lifetime pensions and etc) or the current overall running lifetime cost of the Korean government's payments to comfort women today (including pensions) or its projected future cost, but I suspect that Korea would come out ahead if it demanded a reversal of the treaty and paid Japan back $6 billion.

    Even if Korea had a financial loss, I think this is acceptable if it gets the modern Japanese government to reverse course and attempt to make up for their war crimes.

    The Korean,

    I feel horrified that the Japanese Court system would rule that way, in defiance of existing international law.

    Another thing I want to say is that it seems like you've gotten some flak for using emotional arguments (in addition to your logical ones). In fact, emotional appeals can be more persuasive than logical ones: e.g. http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2008/01/slowly-ive-watc.html and http://www.smsu.edu/Academics/Collegenow/Speech%20110/Persuasive%20Lecture.doc

    I believe that you balance ethos, logos, and pathos very well in your posts, and especially in this post.

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  45. "NO. He was a dictator who sold out his own country." Wow, this is the most controversial statement that I have seen in your blog.

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  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. As a Wikipedia article states, the South Korean government was paid $800 million in order to settle all the claims. Instead of distributing the money to the individuals, they chose to invest them in economic development.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_Basic_Relations_between_Japan_and_the_Republic_of_Korea#Compensation
    Of course, the comfort women have the right (and by all means should) to go after the Japanese government, but the Korean government owes them an apology (and compensation) as well for selling them out and pocketing their money, unless there were some payments made that I am not aware of.

    I also think that the issue of comfort women should be exposed to Western public more. It will forever stain Japanese history and may possibly prevent those things from happening in the future. They have to pay for their war crimes, for the crimes against humanity just like everybody else.

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  48. vb,

    As TK said, the Korean government does pay out a pension and other benefits to the survivors. I don't know if it has officially apologized for what Bak Jeonghui did, though.

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  49. This reminds me of Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide. Let's just hope that the plight of the comfort women won't die once the last survivors passes...Which is what the Japanese gov. wants it to be...To have it just go away!

    Issuing words of apology while whitewashing its own history books is not exactly a sincere apology!

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  50. Got caught up in the holidays, and haven't had a chance to respond. Here it goes!

    I'm just going to it on #4, TheKorean's claim Japan can satisfy everyone and a method of doing so.

    Comfort Women advocates remind me a lot of Slavery Reparation proponents other than interest in comfort women seems to lessen with each passing generation of Koreans. Ask someone advocating monetary compensation for slavery will "let it go" and they almost all give a response which is more or less "no". While I've never asked anyone point blank whether compensating comfort women will clear the matter up, the comments I've seen around the internet lead me to believe an apology with monetary redress lead me to believe it won't go away.

    Here is how I think Japan will not get off the hook if it were to follow TheKorean's path to redemption. There are almost certainly NOT only 63 comfort women left around. There are 63 registered women. Given the Japanese government's record destruction after the surrender along with the probability of surviving comfort women destroying their own documents, there are likely more out there who just can't meet the standards to be certified. Add to that I suspect there are a number of women impressed into slave labor who more or less became comfort women at their work sites. Once this ball were to get rolling, other claims will need to be reviewed and probably entry standards lowered.

    In the end, not everyone will make the cut. And that is just for the Republic of Korea. What about comfort women north of the Military Demarcation Line? No, I think if TheKorean's plan were put in place, the advocates running the show on this will just regroup around the ladies left in the cold. They may also start pushing for compensation for comfort womens' immediate family members (spouses, children, siblings, etc). Either way I just don't see this going away with cash + a sumimasen.

    One last point. TheKorean, please don't think I am questioning your sincerity. I think you would be satisfied if Japan were to do this. But you are but one person in this tale.

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  51. TheKorean, please don't think I am questioning your sincerity.

    No worries. I also hope you don't misinterpret my comment as hostility.

    There are almost certainly NOT only 63 comfort women left around. There are 63 registered women. . . . In the end, not everyone will make the cut. . . . I think if TheKorean's plan were put in place, the advocates running the show on this will just regroup around the ladies left in the cold. They may also start pushing for compensation for comfort womens' immediate family members (spouses, children, siblings, etc).

    I think it is a legitimate point, but I doubt that it changes the fact that the cost for Japan would be minimal. Recall that these women are very old. Anyone who claims for compensation must be at least over 80 years old to make a plausible claim -- in other words, there is a natural barrier as to borderline claims. Even if there are 10 times more surviving Comfort Women who are not registered with Korean government, so what? Even if we suppose the worst possible scenario of, say, compensating pretty much anyone with a claim and the children of the claim-holders, how high could that number possibly be? Even the worst possible scenario cannot possibly present more than 1,000 claim-holders (=surviving Comfort Women.) Even if Japan were to pay the claim-holders' children, the total number cannot go above 5,000. And for Japan, paying 5,000 people a lifetime pension is de minimis.

    Or, stated differently: last year, there was a fraud that swindled $42 million from the pension fund for Holocaust survivors, funded by Germany. But no one is questioning that it was the right thing for German government to compensate Holocaust survivors, right?

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  52. TheKorean, I in no way doubt Japan could easily fund some sort of compensation package in the sense they are resourced. My doubts are more of a political nature. If the goal is to resolve this issue to the point it satisfies the Korean government and Koreans in general, it seems to me the threshold proof needed to prove up someone was a comfort woman or the child of a comfort woman would have to be so low, merely showing a woman was Korean and of an appropriate age would suffice. Anything else would risk people being left out for the advocates to rally around. Again, I suspect Japan could handle the funding of even this, but could a Japanese government approve it with risking collapse? I seriously doubt it. Even if they did, they now get pressured to provide the same program to other people in East Asia. I have my doubts Japan could afford that!

    Two other matters:

    1. I keep hearing "Germany compensated the Jews". Yes, they did. But my guess is their programs were all initiated before gaining full soveriegnty (1957) or the Allies had hefty leverage over them (certainly late 60s and arguably into the 90s). Its nice they did it, but I wonder how relevant it is here.

    2. Here is an interesting item which may partially explain the Japanese mindset on this. There were Japanese comfort women! Occupation Forces didn't physically reach the Home Islands until 2 weeks to a month after the surrender yet there were whorehouses ready for business. There is some evidence Imperial Japanese officials rounded up lower class girls and sent them into clubs to both shield "respectable" women from the Gaijin and to provide a source of hard cash for the economy. I've never heard of these women being compensated. If they're not of a mind to anty up for their own sex slaves, I doubt they're likely to do so for outsiders (though they should).

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  53. people are so brain washed and take any information as fact, comfort women..were taken by their own people, koreans were doing sex trade, read korean newspapers from the time, they continue to blatantly ignore the truth, comfort women is a korean culture, the same thing happened during the korean war, please do proper research rather than sulking in pathetic resentment about war. japanese police were helping liberate sex traffic victims in korea by their own people. they ignore this fact, they refuse to believe this fact, yet it is widely published in their newspapers. comfort women were paid a lot of money, because it was their occupation, it was not any sort of slavery, this is an obvious reactionary attitude towards their own disgust in their own behavior, and try to blame it off as something forced on them.
    http://tonchamon.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2011/10/the-reasons-why.html

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  54. I'm very interested in what you've written. (and it's been what I've been looking for!)
    I'm currently doing a school research paper upon this matter.
    At first, I was going to write that Japan should apologize, but doing some research I found out that they did "apologize". So I was like : then why are the women so furious? Why do they keep protesting every week in front of the Japan embassy? You had the perfect answers! Thank you for the answers :)
    If possible I would also like to know some sources that support your point. (preferably books)? Could you help?
    email: hyejsrsh68@gmail.com
    Thanks again :D

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    Replies
    1. Oops. I meant hyejsrsh68@hotmail.com! Thank you! :)

      Delete
  55. Could anyone answer my following questions?
    1. Why had Korean comfort women NEVER come out until 1991?
    What did they not sue Japan during 1946-1991?
    2. Why none of them could gave any sufficient evidences without contradiction or ambiguity?
    Many of them have changed their stories each time when they have testified.
    3. Why Japanese-mixed children have never found anywhere, if Japanese soldiers really raped tens of thousand women as Koreans claim?
    "Rape of Berlin" gave birth to over 10,000 pregnancies.
    Thousands of Lai Daihan(Korean-Vietnam mixed child) were born during the Vietnam War.

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  56. TStrong,

    Your response is not only factually incorrect, but racist.

    Kumabear,

    1. It would have been considerably more difficult to speak out prior to that time, back before South Korea had completely democracized.

    2. This is simply false. I'm hard pressed to see even a single individual false claimant here. If you have counterexamples, you should state them explictly with sources.

    3. Again, false. They exist. See page 29 of http://koreaverband.ahkorea.com/_file/trostfrauen/Testimonies_KoreanComfortWomen_english.pdf or http://www.china.org.cn/english/China/216313.htm

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  57. I am a Korean- American, grew up in the U.S. So I have studied history here and never in Korea but am very interested in these matters. Why this (apology not happening) bothers me the most is, if a government cannot accept and apologize for their past, what does this say about who they are now and what they will do in the future. I think it's crystal clear one of the important reasons why we learn about history, to help correct ourselves for a better future - is this not right? If I were only emotional, I would just be angry and have endless tears for what happened to those women (all of them not just Korean) and demand correction. However that aside, being on the side of human rights and being logical, I say any country not taking responsibility for crimes committed conveys a very strong stance of the present and possible future. Japan is overall an educated country, yet not properly acknowledging the past along with not having their people properly educated about their past is more than confusing... and Wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am a Korean- American, grew up in the U.S. So I have studied history here and never in Korea but am very interested in these matters. Why this (apology not happening) bothers me the most is, if a government cannot accept and apologize for their past, what does this say about who they are now and what they will do in the future. I think it's crystal clear one of the important reasons why we learn about history, to help correct ourselves for a better future - is this not right? If I were only emotional, I would just be angry and have endless tears for what happened to those women (all of them not just Korean) and demand correction. However that aside, being on the side of human rights and being logical, I say any country not taking responsibility for crimes committed conveys a very strong stance of the present and possible future. Japan is overall an educated country, yet not properly acknowledging the past along with not having their people properly educated about their past is more than confusing... and wrong.

    ReplyDelete

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