Kono Statement report a ‘betrayal,’ Park states

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Kono Statement report a ‘betrayal,’ Park states

During an interview with the Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV, President Park Geun-hye slammed the Japanese government’s move to review the 1993 Kono Statement, calling it an act that “betrays the trust between the two countries.”

The one-on-one interview, which was conducted on Monday at the Blue House ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul, aired Wednesday on the station’s show “Global Watch.”

“Japan is saying it will acknowledge the Kono Statement, but at the same time is practically attempting to damage it by re-examining the process of its drafting,” the president said. “This is hugely offensive to the victims, betrays the trust between the two countries and ignores stern calls from international society.”

On June 20, the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a report that claimed that Tokyo and Seoul held secret consultations in the lead-up to the landmark address, issued in August 1993 by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, which effectively apologized for the Japanese military’s sexual enslavement of women during World War II. Those victims are often euphemistically referred to as “comfort women.”

The Korean government described the report, which enraged Korea and China - both war victims of Japan - as Tokyo’s effort to backtrack on its apologies for its wartime atrocities. President Park’s remarks during the interview were her first public comments on the report since it was released.

The president further noted that it is regrettable that some Japanese politicians’ “wrong historical views and regressive words” are hindering the progress made between Korea and Japan. “After another victim died on June 8, there are only 54 of those comfort women left. We don’t have much time,” she added.

Shui Junyi, the CCTV reporter conducting the interview, noted that Park was the first female president in the East Asia cultural sphere - the countries that were historically influenced by China and share Confucian values. He then asked the president how she managed to overcome the stress of being a female politician in a male-dominated society.

Park replied that she felt an immense responsibility, as being elected the first female president reflected a demand from Koreans for a change that was bigger than what could be delivered by a male president.

She added that she believed that how well women can demonstrate their potential would determine national competitiveness, and was why she prioritized establishing a social system that would enable women to make the most of their abilities.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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