Monday, December 28, 2015

The So-Called So-Called Comfort Women Issue Resolution Proposal

There is nuts. Then there is full blown, hair-askew, pants-on-backwards insane.

From news reports, the proposal on resolution of the comfort women issue Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio will be offering to his South Korean counterpart in a few hours's time is the latter.

According to news reports, Kishida is going to ask the ROK side to accept:
1) a fund of 100 million yen (currently about USD $825,000) for the medical, welfare and income needs of the surviving Korean comfort women

2) a request that the ROK government also contribute to the fund

3) letters from Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to all the survivors expressing his remorse at their pain, deprivation and humiliation

4) the ROK government's declaring that the government of Japan bears no legal responsibility for acts done to the comfort women, i.e. that the repudiation of ROK legal claims in the 1965 normalization treaty apply also to the comfort women's claims

5) that the ROK government will agree to remove or move the statue of the seated young girl installed by private interests in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul

6) that the two governments sign a binding agreement declaring the comfort women issue resolved.

I am not making any of the above up. (Link - J video)

I know very little about contemporary South Korean politics (it is hard enough to keep track of the politics of Japan, thank you very much) but my cursory knowledge still tells me there is virtually nothing in the above that the Park Geun-hye government can accept, given its level of popularity with the voters.

With unacceptability as the assumption, two alternative explanations have been bandied about:

A) That the above is actually not the proposal, and that the news media of Japan have been quoting sources who are voicing their virulent opposition to whatever the Abe administration is actually proposing, or

B) The above is really what the Abe Administration is offering, fully cognizant that the ROK will reject it, allowing Abe and Company to shrug their shoulders and say, "Look, we made an offer and they turned us down flat. Next."

Of course, there is always:

C) the ROK through gritted teeth accepts the above.

The reason for (C) even being remotely plausible is pressure from the United States, ally of both of these headstrong governments. According to the Asahi Shimbun " numerous persons in the loop of Japan-ROK relations" have confirmed that if an accord is reached the U.S. government will immediately issue a statement of congratulating its allies for resolving this difficult bilateral issue. (Link - J)

A statement of congratulations...oh whoop-de-doo.

As persons following my tweets on Twitter know I am firmly in the (B) camp. My reading is that key members of the Abe government are certain the current ROK government and a large chunk of the South Korean public have no intention of ever letting Japan and the Japanese off the hook for the colonial era -- and why should they, as resolution of historical/territorial issues would open the door for closer Japan-US-ROK military cooperation, upsetting China?

As a consequence, any realistic Japanese attempt at a rapprochement would be pointless, leaving Japan looking like a rejected beggar.

Japan's main interest in these talks seems to be the pleasing of U.S.A. policy makers, putting on a show of seeking resolution so that the Japan Hands can check off the "a more concerted effort toward resolving the comfort women issue" box on the U.S. list of "Things the Abe Government Needs to Do."

In a few hours' time we will know better.


Anonymous said...

Oh, a miracle just happend...

EJT said...
I guess all they had to do was add a zero to the compensation number.

Richard said...

Well, it looks like a deal is to be done....the devil will be in the details, eh?!?