Tough talks needed with JapanThe Korean government formerly proposed to Japan a new round of discussions on compensation for the so-called comfort women, or wartime sex slaves for the Japanese army. Seoul cited the 1965 Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation, which allows the two nations to address comfort women’s rights through diplomatic talks or an arbitration panel.
Korea’s renewed endeavors follow last month’s Constitutional Court ruling in favor of victims of sexual slavery battling for a tougher government role in claiming compensation from Japan. The court ruled that the Korean government has not done enough to help the Korean women who were abducted and forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. The court concluded that the government was negligent in its duty to defend and fight for the rights of its citizens.
Japan maintains that all issues and damages during the colonial rule were settled in the blanket compensation treaty in 1965, even as legal experts say the deal does not cover individual compensation. The Seoul government has been shying away from taking on the issue in fear of starting a tedious diplomatic dispute. The government would have had to consider the broader context of Korea-Japan ties, but the victims and their families have been abandoned in their lonely fight against Japan. It took the Constitutional Court to shake up the government.
Article 3 of the Treaty stipulates that the dispute should be resolved through arbitration should the two countries fail to come to agreement in diplomatic negotiations. Though we believe that Japan should not resist the Korean government’s call, Japan refused to have talks on the issue. It must come to the negotiating table with sincerity. The government must address the issue with firm resolution and aggressiveness to settle it once and for all.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission as well as the U.S., Europe, and other countries and regions condemn the enslavement and other inhumane acts on Korean women as “crimes against humanity” and demand due compensation. Korea is by no means in a disadvantageous position should a mediator from a third country participate in the case. Of 234 comfort women recognized by the government, only 69 are still living at this point. There is no time to waste in getting a little bit of justice for them after so many years of neglect.