[Letter to the editor]Atonement for past wrongs
On Feb. 6, another former so-called comfort woman passed away. As the years pass by, the victims and true witnesses of [Japan’s wartime sexual slavery] are lost. The news was so sad not just because she died during the Lunar New Year holiday, but also because she never got what she wanted while she was alive ― a true apology from Japan. I was so sorry that as a descendant of our ancestors who suffered so much from Japan’s occupation, I couldn’t do anything to make the Japanese government give her an apology.
Not long ago I read about how Germany is regretting its past and is planning projects to recount their shameful past to their descendants, so that it will never happen again. Just looking at the current attitude of the Japanese government toward the comfort women issue, it can only be understood that they are waiting until all the few surviving witnesses pass away. After that, they will just say “Prove it!” Never has the Japanese government officially even tried to regret its past. Japan’s arrogance has continued to hurt not only the women victims, but also its relations with some countries. On the other hand, Germany’s recognition of its past earned itself the respect of other countries.
I am not saying that Japan should be so sorry about the past that it will never have a comfortable relationship with Korea. No, I don’t want that. As close neighbors, they should cooperate and build friendship for the good of our decendants. They share many common things.
However, they should at least pay some respect to their victims before it’s too late. They should apologize to families of those who lost their lives because of Japanese brutality. They should give compensation to those still living, if necessary. We like to build towers that will last centuries. Although we can decorate the top of the tower with gold and gems, if the base is rotten wood, it would be of no use.
I have an interest in Japanese culture. I even have a plan to learn Japanese in the near future. There are also good Japanese people who realize their country’s past. “Know thy enemy,” the adage goes, but I hope that Japan will regret killing and maltreatment our grandparents and ancestors. I am urging ― no, I am demanding ― that the Japanese government takes action before another of its wartime victims passes away.
Kang Yoon-seung, student, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies