Korea’s efforts overseas to pressure Japan
to take responsibility for its past wrongdoings may be paying dividends.
Japan has denied that it has plans to re-examine its official apology to the Korean victims
for its military’s forced recruitment of sex slaves during World War II.
It is, however, sticking to its stance that the victims were compensated under a bilateral
treaty signed in 1965. Connie Kim reports.
Korea’s fight for Japan to take responsibility and compensate the victims of its wartime
sexual slavery rolled on in Geneva on Thursday. Korea’s foreign minister had the floor and
laid out a compelling and emotional case for the victims at the UN Human Rights Council
meeting on Wednesday, but on Thursday it was Tokyo’s turn to put its points across. Japan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Takashi
Okada, said Tokyo, contrary to reports, has never spoken of reviewing the 1993 Kono statement,
in which then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of Japan’s
sex slavery. “The Japanese government hasn’t changed its
position since 1993, nor did it say it would re-examine the 1993 Kono statement. Japan’s current Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide
Suga, speaking in Tokyo Thursday said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not make light
of the fact that Japanese actions caused immeasurable pain to the Korean women, as recognized by
previous governments. Late last month, there were reports Suga had
said Tokyo would re-examine the testimony given by former sex slaves as the government
at the time did not verify the victims’ remarks. Back in Geneva, Okada said the Japanese government
had fully compensated the victims through a 1965 treaty that normalized Korea’s economic
and diplomatic relations after its liberation from Japan. On Wednesday, Korean Foreign Minister Yun
Byung-se had urged Japan to take responsibility and compensate the victims. Yoo Yeon-cheol, Korea’s ambassador to the
UN urged Japan to admit to and take responsibility for its military’s past use of sex slaves. “Japanese political leaders have been making
moves to deny the Kono-statement recently.” South Korea wasn’t alone in criticizing Tokyo
for its past actions and current inaction. The North Korean and Chinese ambassadors to
the UN said the Japanese government was trying to deny and hide its past wrongdoings.
The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, on Thursday called on Korea and Japan to improve
relations and said the U.S. will do what it can to help.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.