No evidence of military coercion of "comfort women":
• Japan has found no documents confirming the so-called
comfort women were forcefully recruited by military or government authorities,
a Japanese envoy told a U.N. panel Tuesday.
• Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said that during a session
in Geneva of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
• The belief that women were forced into sexual servitude is based on
the false accounts of the late Seiji Yoshida, the Japanese envoy indicated.
• Yoshida claimed to have forcibly taken women from the island of Jeju,
then under Japanese colonial rule and now part of South Korea, and forced
them into sexual labor for the Japanese military before and during World
• The Asahi Shimbun in 2014 retracted articles that reported Yoshida's
accounts, Sugiyama noted.
• Sugiyama also explained to the U.N. committee the historic Japan-South
Korean accord reached last December to "finally and irreversibly"
resolve the protracted dispute over comfort women issue.
• At the outset of his statement at the U.N. panel, Sugiyama said Japan
will take a lead to make the 21st century a period when women's human
rights are not violated.
• Japan last month sent to the panel its answers to 22 questions, in
which Tokyo said no coercion has been confirmed. In January, South Korea
refuted that claim, calling the coercion a historic fact.
• The panel is tasked with monitoring nations' compliance with the Convention
of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It
is scheduled to issue on March 7 its findings regarding Japan and other
nations under review. (Feb. 16)
S. Korea's Park sings own praises on 'comfort women'
• South Korean President Park Geun Hye on Tuesday trumpeted the efforts
of her administration toward solving the long-standing issue of women
forced into wartime Japanese military brothels, the presidential office
• In remarks made in a morning Cabinet meeting, Park listed the Dec.
28 agreement with Japan among "difficult issues that previous administrations
left alone" and that she is committed to solving.
• Meanwhile, according to a New Year's survey conducted by the mass-circulation
JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, more than half of respondents, or 58.2 percent,
answered that they "did not agree" with the notion that the
deal had settled the so-called "comfort women" issue finally
and irreversibly, while 37.3 percent said they did agree.
• On whether the South Korean government should make an effort toward
moving a statue symbolizing the issue located in front of the Japanese
Embassy, 74.4 percent of all respondents voiced opposition.
• Moreover, 76.6 percent of respondents said they did not feel Japanese
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's apology expressed in the agreement was genuine,
indicating the skepticism with which the agreement is viewed. (Jan.
S. Korean gov't to go ahead with "comfort women"
• A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that a "Comfort
Women White Paper" being prepared by the country's Gender Equality
and Family Ministry since last year to shed light on the issue of women
forced into wartime Japanese military brothels will be published on
• The spokesman said the issuance of the white paper is "unrelated"
to the Dec. 28 agreement between South Korea and Japan to end the decades-long
issue "finally and irreversibly."
• The move is likely to draw criticism from Japan as a violation of
the deal, which includes a promise that the two sides not criticize
each other at the international stage over the issue.
• The Gender Equality and Family Ministry earlier said it plans to translate
the paper into various languages including English, Japanese and Chinese.
• On the issue of a statue symbolizing the so-called "comfort women"
located in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul that Japan wants removed,
the spokesman stressed that the matter is not covered by the agreement.
• "Since it was erected by a civic group, the government can't
just tell them what to do or not to do," the spokesman said.
• The Japanese government has indicated that funds it will provide under
the agreement to help the surviving now-elderly women will be contingent
on removal of the statue.
• The removal of the statue was not mentioned as a condition for the
Japanese financial aid in a joint announcement released by Japanese
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun
Byung Se after their talks in Seoul on Dec. 28 that led to the deal.
Senior Japan, S. Korea, U.S. diplomats to meet in Tokyo
• Senior diplomats from Japan, South Korea and the United States plan
to meet in Tokyo in the middle of this month to reaffirm trilateral
security cooperation amid growing concerns over an increasingly assertive
China and nuclear ambitions of North Korea, diplomatic sources said
• The diplomats are hoping to push for stronger ties among their countries
by building on the momentum of a deal struck between Japan and South
Korea late last year to "finally and irreversibly" resolve
the drawn-out dispute over Korean women who were forced to work in Japan's
wartime military brothels, they said.
• Japan will be represented by its vice foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki,
the United States by Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and South
Korea by Lim Sung Nam, first vice minister of foreign affairs, the sources
• Both Japan and the United States are increasingly concerned about
China's recent step to land a plane on an airstrip it constructed in
a contested part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China
claims sovereignty over most of that sea and has overlapping territorial
claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
• Tokyo and Washington are believed to urge Seoul to be on the same
page as they are when it comes to China's maritime forays, the sources
said. South Korea has been seen as being hesitant in criticizing China's
assertiveness at sea apparently to avoid hurting ties with China.
• Some people in Japan and South Korea have been critical of the landmark
deal to settle the issue of so-called "comfort women," which
includes contributing from Japan's state budget to provide support for
the women. Some have branded the agreement a "diplomatic defeat."
• Washington, eager to see strong ties between Tokyo and Seoul, is expected
to reiterate its support for the agreement and seek that the issue not
be raised again in the future, the sources said.
• When they meet, the diplomats plan to agree on the importance of working
together to address North Korean nuclear and missile issues.
• They are also likely to discuss the long-stalled issue of signing
at an early date the General Security of Military Information Agreement
between Japan and South Korea, the sources said.
• In 2012, Tokyo and Seoul put off signing the agreement, aimed at sharing
classified information, due to opposition in South Korea.
• Another issue that could be on the agenda is that of concluding an
Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between the Japanese Self-Defense
Forces and the South Korean military, which would enable reciprocal
provision of supplies, the sources said.
• The diplomats may discuss as well a proposal for Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun Hye and U.S. President
Barack Obama to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security
Summit which opens March 31 in Washington, according to the sources.
Japan does not intend to apply "comfort women"
• Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated Monday that Tokyo
does not intend to take similar steps over so-called comfort women with
countries and regions other than South Korea, with which Japan recently
struck a landmark deal to resolve the dispute.
• The remarks during a Japanese TV program came after Taiwan raised
the prospect of talks with Japan over the issue of Taiwanese women forced
to work in Japan's wartime military brothels.
• "This time, (the Japanese and South Korean) governments only
confirmed the resolution of a long-running issue between Japan and South
Korea after making maximum efforts," Suga said.
• He suggested that Japan has dealt with the parties concerned over
the issue of comfort women in a sincere manner.
• A high-level Japanese official said separately that Tokyo has no intention
of launching new talks with the Taiwanese government over the issue,
even though Taipei is looking to find out concrete demands from former
comfort women in Taiwan and enter talks with Tokyo.
• Japan and South Korea reached an agreement on Dec. 28 in which Japan
offered to provide 1 billion yen for a new South Korean foundation aimed
at helping aging former comfort women and admitted to involvement by
the country's old military in the issue.
• The Taiwanese government has been asking the Japanese government to
offer an official apology and compensation to Taiwanese victims. (Jan.
S. Korea, Japan to reopen "comfort women" talks
possibly in Jan.
• South Korea and Japan will hold follow-up talks
as early as this month on a landmark deal reached in late December to
settle the issue of the so-called "comfort women", diplomatic
sources familiar with bilateral relations said Sunday.
• The two countries have agreed to continue their director-general talks
to discuss the process of implementing the deal, but negotiations could
face rough going as Japan and South Korea have put different interpretations
on conditions to carry out the accord.
• Japan has indicated its 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) contribution to
a fund to help former comfort women will be contingent on removal of a
statue of a girl, symbolizing the victims, that sits outside the Japanese
Embassy in Seoul, according to a Japanese government source.
• However, a South Korean government official has said Seoul has not promised
the removal of the statue, which is not included in the agreement.
• Meanwhile, an official of South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality
and Family has said the ministry has started talks with Japanese Foreign
Ministry officials on a foundation that will be established and run with
funds contributed by the Japanese government.
• At a joint news conference in South Korea last Monday after the two
countries' foreign ministers reached the accord, South Korean Foreign
Minister Yun Byung Se said Seoul "acknowledges" Tokyo's concern
about the statue and that it will "strive to solve this issue in
an appropriate manner."
• His Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida said he thinks it "will
be relocated appropriately."
• The statue of a girl was erected in 2011 by the Korean Council of Women
Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group helping former comfort
women, on a sidewalk near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
• The South Korean civic group has strongly objected to the agreement
and insists it will not remove the statue.
• Many people in South Korea are not happy about removal of the statue
as the administration of President Park Geun Hye struck the deal with
Japan without asking the former comfort women's opinions beforehand.
• Two vice foreign ministers of South Korea met with former comfort women
last Tuesday in an attempt to persuade them to accept the removal of the
statue, but they were rejected.
• A South Korean government source said the Park administration is now
considering appointing a minister in charge of holding talks with the
former comfort women. Some conservatives have proposed that the president
should try to persuade them by herself. (Jan. 3)
S. Korea presidential office seeks understanding
of Japan deal
• The South Korean presidential office on Thursday issued
a statement to the public appealing for understanding of this week's landmark
agreement with Japan to resolve the issue of women who were forced to
work in Japan's wartime military brothels.
• "We ask for the understanding of the South Korean people and the
former 'comfort women' from a broad standpoint, and wish that everyone
work together for the future of the country," the office said.
• Meanwhile, Moon Jae In, leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance
for Democracy, visited the House of Sharing, a group home for former comfort
women in the outskirts of Seoul, where he denounced Monday's agreement.
• Moon told women at the home who voiced dissatisfaction with the agreement
that his party would hold Japan legally responsible and win an apology
and compensation from Tokyo.
• In the agreement, Japan offered to provide 1 billion yen ($8.3 million)
for a new South Korean fund aimed at helping aging former comfort women
and admitted to involvement by the Japanese military in the issue. (Dec.
30 students detained for trespassing at Japanese
Embassy in Seoul
• Around 30 university students were detained on suspicion
of trespassing Thursday while holding an unauthorized rally in a building
in central Seoul where the Japanese Embassy is temporarily located, according
to police sources.
• The students were protesting against this week's landmark deal between
Japan and South Korea over women.
• The deal has generated opposition over reports that Japan stipulated
the removal of a statue symbolizing the issue of so-called "comfort
women" in return for giving 1 billion yen (about $8.3 million) to
a fund to help those women.
• According to witnesses, the students held up a banner reading "The
South Korean people reject the deal with Japan" near the entrance
to the building. Some of them went up the eighth floor where the consular
section is located and put up similar banners on walls in shared spaces.
• Earlier in the day, banners with messages such as "Apology and
compensation" and "Protect the girl statue" were attached
to windows in the building.
• On Wednesday night, protestors began a sit-in near the bronze statue
located in front of the site where the Japanese Embassy is being rebuilt.
• In nearby Gwanghwamun Square, a protest gathering was underway Thursday
against the agreement, with one banner reading "Scrap the insulting
deal of (President) Park Geun Hye."
• The statue of a barefoot girl was erected in 2011 by the Korean Council
for Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group helping former
• The group has refused calls to get rid of the statue and confirmed their
policy of trying to create more comfort women statues in and outside South
Korea in a rally Wednesday. (Dec. 31)
No "comfort women" fund until
removal of Seoul statue: Japan
• Japan's fund to help comfort women will be contingent
on removal of a statue of protest in Seoul, a Japanese government source
said Wednesday, a development that could overshadow a recent deal to settle
• Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set the condition, the source said, amid
looming opposition by some in Japan to a plan to release the public funds
to help the women, euphemistically called "comfort women" in
Japan, with the statue of a girl remaining in place.
• Some of the former comfort women were from the Korean Peninsula which
was under Japanese colonial rule before and during World War II.
• The source said the South Korean government recognizes that Japan's
disbursement of the money Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said
will total 1 billion yen to the new fund is contingent upon the removal
of the statue.
• South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se told a group of South Korean
reporters Wednesday that Seoul will urge Tokyo to refrain from behaviors
"that could cause misunderstanding," in an apparent reference
to reports on Japan's intention to link the fund with the fate of the
• The removal of the statue was not mentioned as a condition for the Japanese
financial aid in a joint announcement released by Kishida and Yun after
their talks in Seoul on Monday.
• South Korea said in the announcement that it "will strive to solve
this issue in an appropriate manner."
• The statue of a girl was erected in 2011 by the Korean Council for Women
Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group helping former comfort
women, on a sidewalk near the embassy.
• The group refused calls to get rid of the statue and confirmed their
policy of trying to create more comfort women statues in and outside South
Korea in a rally Wednesday.
• Abe's Facebook page has been flooded with protest messages from people
who were dissatisfied with the bilateral agreement. Some branded the agreement
"a diplomatic defeat" while others said they are not going to
support his Cabinet.
• Japan and South Korea reached an agreement Monday to help aging former
comfort women in South Korea which includes the Japanese plan to offer
money to the envisioned fund to be set up by the South Korean government.
• Japan admitted to involvement by the old military in the issue and Abe
expressed apology in the agreement.
• Disputes between Tokyo and Seoul over the issue of comfort women have
strained bilateral ties and had prevented Abe, who took office in 2012,
and President Park Geun Hye, who was inaugurated in 2013, from holding
a one-on-one meeting until November. (Dec. 31)
S. Korean group pledges to erect
more 'comfort women' statues
• A South Korean civic group supporting comfort women
said Wednesday it plans to start a movement to erect both inside and outside
the country statues similar to the one located in front of the Japanese
Embassy in Seoul that Tokyo wants removed.
• The Korean Council for Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan announced
the move as a show of its opposition to Monday's landmark deal between
Japan and South Korea aimed at "finally and irreversibly" resolving
the longstanding dispute over so-called "comfort women."
• The group made the pledge at its weekly rally in front of the embassy,
which saw around 700 people gather to protest and mourn the deaths of
nine former comfort women who passed away this year, according to local
• The rallies are held every Wednesday, and have been held more than 1,000
times, Yonhap News Agency reported. The event on Wednesday was the first
since the agreement between the two nations was struck.
• Under the agreement, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his
government will give 1 billion yen (about $8.3 million) to a fund to help
those women who suffered.
• While the agreement has drawn criticism from the victims and others
over Tokyo's refusal to accept formal legal responsibility, many in particular
object to the South Korean government's agreement to "make efforts"
toward removing the statue.
• South Korea's Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday quoted a South Korean
official as denying Japanese news reports that Seoul agreed to relocate
• "Japan made no such demand during the negotiations," the official
told Yonhap on condition of anonymity.
• Nevertheless, observers have noted that Japan would find it difficult
to implement the deal if the South Korean government fails to convince
the council to remove the statue.
• Ever since the bronze statue of a young woman clad in traditional Korean
costume symbolizing the victims was erected in December 2011, Japan has
called for its removal.
• The civic group behind the statue said there are 27 similar monuments
in South Korea, with a further three outside the country. (Dec. 30)
"Comfort women" deal should not
be "final resolution:" group
• The Japan-South Korea agreement to settle the issue
of "comfort women" should not be considered a final resolution
as it was concluded without consulting with the victims, a support group
for the women said in a statement issued recently.
• "The bilateral talks were held in the absence of the victims. As
a result, there still remains a lot of work to do to make it a 'final
resolution,'" the Japan Action for Resolution of the "Comfort
Women" Issue said.
• The statement was issued after the two countries struck a deal on Monday
in Seoul to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the longstanding
dispute over comfort women.
• Under the accord announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
and his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung Se, Japan will contribute 1
billion yen ($8.3 million) to a new South Korean fund to support the former
comfort women and acknowledges responsibility for their suffering.
• The group said in the statement the agreement does not refer to measures
on how to teach wartime history involving the victims at schools and how
to hand down their memories to later generations.
• "The two countries, without touching on these points, agreed to
refrain from accusing or criticizing each other over the issue in the
international community," it said. "This means they do not recognize
the comfort women issue as one regarding women's human rights."
• On a statue of a girl symbolizing the victims located in front of the
Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Yun said South Korea "acknowledges"
Japan's concern about it and that it will "make efforts" toward
• The group, however, attacked these remarks, saying, "Such an audacious
agreement means to utter blasphemies against the victims."
• The group urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to officially offer
an apology himself so the victims can accept it.
• It also said the Japanese government needs to cover the comfort women
issue in the school curriculum while conducting further research on the
issue to search for the truth so the victims can be rehabilitated.
• The same measures should be applied to other victims in the Asia-Pacific
region by acknowledging the state's responsibility, it added. (Dec. 30)
suspends activities related to
• A New York-based Korean-American group said Tuesday
it has decided to suspend political activities related to comfort women
following a recent agreement reached by Tokyo and Seoul aimed at settling
the long-standing diplomatic row.
• David Lee, president of the Korean American Public Affairs Committee,
told Kyodo News by telephone that he was "glad" to hear of the
agreement struck Monday in which Japan admitted to its military's involvement
in the matter and offered to provide 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) for
a new South Korean fund to be set up to support aging former comfort women.
• It is time to start "hugging together and working together,"
Lee said. The group will try to help South Korea and Japan "build
a good friendship" through cultural exchange programs, he said.
• Lee's group was involved in various activities to commemorate the comfort
women, including a monument erected in a park in Nassau County, New York,
• The Korean American Forum of California, which led a project to set
up a comfort woman statue in Glendale, has criticized the latest agreement
between Tokyo and Seoul.
• In Washington, a State Department spokesman called on groups working
on the issue in the United States to support the bilateral agreement and
its full implementation.
• "The support of civil society for this settlement will be crucial
to its success in the end," spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday.
• The U.S. government has welcomed the reconciliatory move between Japan
and South Korea on the issue and urged the international community to
support it. (Dec. 29)
U.S. urges support for Japan-
S. Korea deal on "comfort
• The United States hailed an agreement Monday
reached by Japan and South Korea on the long-standing issue of Korean
comfort women calling on the international community to back it.
• "We support this agreement and its full implementation," National
Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement released on the Tokyo-Seoul
agreement to settle the so-called "comfort women" issue.
• "The United States applauds the leaders of the ROK (South Korea)
and Japan, two of our most important allies, for having the courage and
vision to forge a lasting settlement to this difficult issue," said
Rice, top foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama.
• The deal "should be welcomed by the international community,"
Rice said. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a separate statement,
"We call on the international community to support it."
• The United States had been urging Japan and South Korea, its close security
allies in East Asia, to settle the comfort women issue. The Korean Peninsula
was under Japanese colonial rule before and during World War II.
• In March 2014, Obama even brokered a trilateral summit with Japanese
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun Hye on
the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague in a bid to encourage
the two Asian leaders to resolve their history-related disputes.
• Japan and South Korea reached an agreement Monday in which Japan offered
to provide 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) for a new South Korean fund aimed
at helping aging former comfort women and admitted to involvement by the
Japanese military in the issue.
• U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, meanwhile, said he hopes that the
agreement will "contribute to improving the bilateral relationship
between the two countries."
• The South Korean chief of the world body urged Tokyo and Seoul to further
improve bilateral relations in a future-oriented manner and "based
on the recognition of history."
• A senior official of the State Department expressed hope that the agreement
will help further cement the trilateral security alliance with the United
States so the trilateral alliance can better deal with regional threats
posed by North Korea's nuclear programs.
• Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, the official described
the details of the Tokyo-Seoul deal as "important landmarks that
remove any ambiguity" about Abe's position on Japan's responsibility
for the comfort women issue and apology.
• Abe's government stirred controversy when a panel reviewed the process
of compiling a 1993 statement in which then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei
Kono apologized for the comfort women issue admitting to involvement by
the Japanese military.
• Abe denied any intention to rewrite the statement itself but Seoul sharply
reacted to the move, suspecting the review could potentially see Tokyo
trying to gloss over wartime aggression.
• In Monday's agreement, Japan admitted to "an involvement of the
Japanese military authorities at that time."
• In a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Abe said,
"Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and
heartfelt apology for its actions during the war" but stopped short
of offering an apology in his own words.
• "Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and
remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences,"
the Japan-South Korea agreement said. (Dec. 28)
Photo taken Dec. 26, 2015, shows
a statue of a girl symbolizing the
issue of "comfort women" in front
of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
It was reported South Korea is
considering relocating it if Tokyo
offers conditions acceptable to
Seoul in talks to settle the long-