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Former South Korean Sex Slaves Reject 'Comfort Women' Apology from Japan

Illustration for article titled Former South Korean Sex Slaves Reject Comfort Women Apology from Japan

Two women who were forced to work as “comfort women” (read: sex slaves) for the Japanese army during World War II have publicly criticized the deal made between Japan and South Korea on their behalf.


Around 200,000 South Korean women were forced to work in brothels as sex slaved for Japanese soldiers. Only 46 women are still alive. In December, South Korea officially accepted Japan’s apology and offer to contribute 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a victims’ fund, but failed to accept any legal responsibility for the program. Part of the deal requires that the issue is “irreversibly” solved.

Many victims are unhappy with the deal’s terms. That’s why Kang Il-chul, 87, and Lee Ok-sun, 88, have traveled to Tokyo—to call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to offer an in-person apology and to provide them with compensation.


“This deal has made us look like fools,” said Kang on Tuesday. “It was agreed without consulting us. How could they have agreed on this and pushed us to one side? I’m furious.”

“It is as if the Japanese government is waiting for us to stop speaking out and die,” Lee said.

The Guardian reports:

Kang and Lee, who live with eight other survivors at the House of Sharing, a private facility near Seoul, have asked to speak to Abe in person. But the meeting is unlikely to happen. “Not only has Abe not apologised, but he hasn’t even tried to meet us,” Kang said. “Why doesn’t he come out and apologise? We want him to meet us face to face.”


On Monday, as Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko travel to the Philippines, Filipino activists have similarly called on the Japanese government to atone for the sex slavery program that was also conducted in their country. Unlike South Korea, the Philippines has received no apology or compensation.

“We have yet to achieve justice,” said Narcisa Claveria, 85, in a press conference, according to Al Jazeera. “We have lost a lot, including our dignity.”


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“It is as if the Japanese government is waiting for us to stop speaking out and die,” Lee said.

I would tend to agree. It was a terrible deal, made between governments who wanted to pretend it didn’t happen rather than make a sincere gesture toward the victims. I’d reject it if I were them as well.