Who are COMFORT women ?
- Comfort women is a euphemism for the females serving as prostitutes to the Japanese military during World War II.
- approximately 200,000 women who were recruited as prostitutes by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
- Many of the young women were forced into servitude and exploited as sex slaves throughout Asia, becoming victims of the largest case of human trafficking in the 20th century.
- In Asia, the comfort women issue remains taboo and controversial, while at the same time, it is almost unknown in the West.
- The plight of these women has been the subject of endless political and diplomatic dispute, with some even attempting to deny the reality of their ordeal.
So why is it in news ?
- In a landmark agreement, seventy years after the end of the Second World War, Japan and the Republic of Korea appear to have finally resolved the longstanding issue of the “comfort women” that has hitherto plagued relations between the two nations.
- Japan has issued a “most sincere” apology and will pay 8.3 million U.S. dollars to the surviving victims.
- In return, South Korea has promised to “finally and irreversibly” end the dispute and endeavor to secure the removal of a comfort women statue in front of Japan’s Embassy in Seoul.
- Both nations also agreed to mutually refrain from further public criticism in terms of the issue.
- A symbolic telephone call made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Park Geun-hye, in which he conveyed his apologies, cemented the agreement.
- The deal has been largely welcomed. Although there are opponents, notably in South Korea, including activists who support the comfort women and some comfort women themselves, who dislike the deal, the agreement met with wider acclaim in Japan.
- In the larger scheme of things, the agreement is a win for both countries, and a personal diplomatic triumph for both Abe and Park. The comfort women issue tainted relations so severely that summit talks between the two leaders have not taken place since 2012. Sharing so much, the countries simply needed to move on.
Moral of the Story !!
Laying some of the ghosts of the past to rest can help create a basis for such cooperation in a region where territorial disputes and nationalist tensions can threaten stability at any moment. Squarely confronting its colonial and military past is essential if Japan wants to build new relations with nations upon which its army inflicted such terrible damage before and during the second world war.