During the Second World War, Japan wanted to provide an ample amount of “comfort women” for their army men to enjoy. Recruitment centers were opened in South Korea, and it has been reported that many South Korean women, between the ages of fourteen and twenty, agreed to serve the Japanese army as prostitutes. Although South Koreans argue, that many of the women were kidnapped and coerced into participating as a prostitute for so many men. Japan admits there was wrong doing, but insists they have documentation proving most of the women were there by choice. With the threat of North Korea nearby, the South Koreans and Japan see a reason to come together as allies. The relentless feud has been hard for both parties to let go of and threatens their relationship going forward.
The Republic of Korea and the foreign ministers of Japan, in December of 2015, came to an agreement, in regard to the abuses made toward the South Korean women during the Second World War. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, admitted to atrocities being committed to South Korean women by the Japanese army, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized to the South Koreans for their pain experienced by the solders of the Japanese army. The government offered South Korea a payment of $9 million to open a support program for the women who were affected by the abuse, and the South Korean government agreed to remove any comfort women statues erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The agreement didn’t go over well with the people of either country.
The South Korean people didn’t feel as though the deal is was enough to settle the abuses made to their country, and the Japanese didn’t feel as though they did anything wrong. Even the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went back on his apology, saying there is documentation that proves the women were there by choice. Comfort women stories are being told in South Korea that contradict the documentation the Japanese have of paying women for their services. These women are old; many of them never told their stories out of embarrassment and fear. There are others who are on record, and all they have is their promises that what they say is true. While the Japanese have documents they provide as the truth, all the South Korean comfort women have is their remembrance of what happened to them.
A woman by the name of, Park Yu-ha, who is a South Korean professor of Japanese literature, wrote a book in 2013, Comfort Women of the Empire. In her book, she claims to have done research and found many of the women who were at the Japanese, army brothels were there by choice. She was sued by nine of the women, who have shared their comfort women testimonies, for defamation, and she won her case against the accusation. The judge found her book to have been written from her own point of view and ruled she was entitled to her opinion on the issue. South Koreans have called her a traitor for her views and still fight for their own truth to be heard. Park Yu-ha has admitted there probably were women who were there involuntarily, but that she felt the mass majority were there voluntarily.
Acting as allies against the threat of North Korea is ideal for both countries. The South Korean people refuse to remove any of the Korean comfort women statues they have carefully placed and would like to see a different deal being made between themselves and the Japanese government. Japan, it seems, just wants the whole thing to go away.