Wartime “comfort women” in South Korea have finally gotten the respite they deserve as the dispute between South Korea and Japan was finally resolved on Monday, December 28, 2015.
This dispute resulted in tensions between the nations and dates back over 70 years and stemmed from the forced sale of tens of thousands of Korean women and girls into sex slavery before and during World War II. Of those women,many remained silent to avoid the stigma of the abuse. But in the early 1990s, more women started to come forward and now a total of 238 former comfort women have gone on the record about their experiences. Forty-six of those women are still alive today.
A statement issued by both countries’ foreign ministers says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women,” the euphemistic name given the women.
While diplomats and politicians praised the resolution, which requires that Japan give $8.3 million to administer medical, nursing, and other care to the women, survivors were quick to voice their opposition.
“The agreement does not reflect the views of former comfort women,” said Lee Yong-soo, 88, in a statement made at a news conference. “I will ignore it completely.” She said that the deal was a disappointment to many women, freeing Japan from taking legal blame for its actions.
“We are not craving money,” she said. “What we demand is that Japan make official reparations for the crime it had committed.”