We often hear the news about comfort women and the demand from global communities for their justice. Many countries are even demanding apology from Japan. So the very pertinent question is what is ‘comfort women’ and why this issue is so important that it is almost causing outrage in Asia pacific region. Don’t get confused and let’s find out.
What is Comfort Women?
Comfort women is the longest running activist movement on sexual slavery in modern history. Yup, it’s the longest running movement which has been running over seven decades.
From 1932 to 1945, during world war-11, more than 200,000 women and girls from countries like Korea, China, Taiwan, Netherlands, Philippines, and Indonesia were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s military. ‘Comfort women’ is a euphemism for girls and women who were forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers in those days. There were over 1,000 military brothels in those days that were managed by the Japanese government and military.
In those periods these women passed through extreme sexual violence, rape, and torture. Their duty was to full the sexual needs of Japanese military. ‘Comfort women’ is considered as one of the grave war crimes in modern history.
Initially, those women who were forced into sexual slavery had kept their experiences secret out of shame. They were forced into silence by their communities and families.
In recent times women across different countries find courage to come out and talk about those atrocities. Gradually different governments also started talking about it. Recently, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou called on the Japanese government to apologize and extend compensation to Taiwanese women used as wartime sex slaves. Liberalizing social norms in Korea also allowed survivors to come forward to raise their voice against the war crime.
In December 2015, Chinese government opened a museum in Nanjing that focuses solely on the plight of comfort women.
Even after 70 years, feelings of animosity and hatred still prevail among the Chinese against the Japanese.
Historic agreement between Japan and South Korea on comfort women-
Finally Japan and Korean government started negotiating about this bone of contention known as comfort women between both countries. Both governments also started talking about what kind of place Japan and Korea will have in 21st-century Asia and what their relation would be among growing concerns that If this issue is not properly addressed, then it will continue to be passed down from generation to generation and spoil relation between both countries. The meeting was attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea in Seoul and they reached at a historical agreement.
Details of the Agreement-
Finally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s apologies and remorse to all the women who suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. Japan also acknowledged its government involvement in the comfort women program. In compensation Japan will supply 8.3 million US dollars in government funds to support the former comfort women.
A special purpose fund, from the money received from Japan, will be established by South Korea to aid them. Japan agreed to fund a South Korean foundation, which will be established to aid the women forced into servitude.