Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A closure for ‘Comfort Women’?

Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken from Penang by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops
‘Comfort Women’ are those unfortunate women from East Asian countries – mainly Korean Peninsula, China, Philippines etc. – who were victim of extreme sexual abuses committed by imperial Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Right after the war, this issue was a matter of serious friction between Seoul (ruled by Japan from 1910 till the end of World War II) and Tokyo. After constant denials, Japanese Government finally acknowledged on 1993 that, Japanese military had forced Asian and European women to work on Japanese military brothels.

In 1995 Japan offered to set up a $1bn fund for victims. The amount was rejected by Comfort Women as it was coming in the form of private donations; neither from Japanese Government budget nor in the form of legal reparations. Hence it continued as a major dispute between two countries. Koreans went on to install a statue of ‘Comfort Women’ right in front of Japanese Embassy in central Seoul in 2011.

Jan Ruff O'Herne, taken shortly before she, 
her mother and sisters, as well as thousands 
of other Dutch women and children were 
interned by the Japanese Imperial Army 
in Ambarawa. Over the following months, 
O'Herne, along with six other Dutch women, 
was repeatedly  raped, day and night, by 
Japanese military personnel
Situation become problematic when South Korean president Park refused to have any summit meeting with Abe (Japanese Prime minister). This standoff lasted till this November. Looks like, US pressure – both Japan and South Korea are US allies – in the face of rising Chinese profile in the region and North Korean adventurism forced both countries to reach some kind of deal.

On Monday, South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers announced a new settlement on Comfort Women. According to which, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered an apology and $8.3mn (not legal reparation) aid set aside in Japanese budge for elderly comfort woman. By the way, this settlement was immediately criticized by elderly comfort women as Japanese are not accepting any legal responsibility for the crimes.

Both side said the deal as final irrevocable resolution on this issue. Along with this settlement, Japan also got an important promise from Seoul that, they will not criticize Tokyo again on this issue.

Japan could have done much more much earlier… Hope that, this settlement will draw a closure to comfort women issue. As far as those poor women are concerned, modern society should make sure that those type of horrible crimes should never 
happen in earth.


1.  Out of 238 comfort women came forward in South Korea only 46 are alive now. They too are in the late 80s and 90s.
2.      Depends on whom we ask, number of women forced to sexual slavery by Imperial Japanese military varies. Based on international estimates, it may vary between 2,00,000 to 3,00,000.


Photo Courtesy - Wikipedia

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