Poll probes perceptions of students

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Poll probes perceptions of students

Nearly two-fifths of Japanese universities students responded in a recent survey that victims of sexual slavery before and during World War II were “already compensated enough” by the Japanese government.

The poll released Wednesday was conducted by Seo Kyung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University, and her research was on 250 Japanese students and 250 Korean students as the two countries celebrate 50 years of bilateral ties this year.

Of the Japanese students surveyed, 37.6 said that the Japanese government had done enough to compensate women forcibly recruited to serve as military sex slaves during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea, euphemistically called “comfort women.” And 30 percent said that they “do not want any more mention of the issue.”

In contrast, 94.4 percent of Korean university students surveyed said that there is “a need for an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government.”

Seo, known for her expertise in promoting Korean culture, said Wednesday that as her team conducted the survey, some of the students “did not know about the comfort women issue and asked the survey administrator what it was.” She added, “The high number of respondents saying that compensation for the issue is enough indicates the seriousness of historical distortion in Japan’s education.”

Amid diplomatic tension over the Shinzo Abe administration’s denial of the forced nature of its military’s recruitment of sex slaves in Korea, 64.8 percent of Korean students said there is a need for an adjustment in historical perspectives and Japan’s foreign policy to improve relations with Korea. In comparison, half of the Japanese students polled said there was such a need.

When asked about their perspectives on the image of each country, 40.8 percent of Korean students questioned said they had a “normal” image of Japan. But over a third, 37.6 percent, said they had a “bad” image, and just 11.6 percent said a “good” one.

In contrast, a third of Japanese students, or 32.4 percent, said they had a good image of Korea. But 14 percent said they had a bad image, while 36.4 percent said they had a “normal” image.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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