Politics behind the Comfort Women Issues

In recent years, relations between South Korea and Japan have significantly worsened. Since the election of President Moon Jae-In in 2017 there has been a rising tide of hatred and racism against Japanese people fueled by social media.

After his election, President Moon moved to violate a 2015 settlement with Japan brokered by U.S President Barack Obama.


Since then, Korean courts have issued several controversial rulings against Japan: claiming damages from colonial era grievances of labor and Comfort Women issues.
Japan, in turn, has strongly protested the rulings. Public attitudes are shifting at an alarming rate.


An Historical Dispute around the Comfort Women issue

In a recent Chosen Ilbo poll:  90% of South Koreans said they held unfavorable opinions toward Japan. This is a huge change from 2015 when only 23% viewed Japan negatively according to Pew Research Center. Another poll cited almost half would back North Korea, if it entered conflict with Japan. Japanese people have also become increasingly concerned by relations with South Korea.
One poll of Japanese reveals that 52 % have a negative view toward South Korea based on their obsession with historical issues.
However, a majority of Japanese polled, think that both countries should avoid confrontation or should overcome the difficulties in a future oriented manner. In many ways, this dispute doesn’t make much sense.

The incitement of Anti-Japanese hatred in South Korea doesn’t serve the interest of either country. Both countries have common strategic interests, they share democratic values respect for human rights and free and open societies and economies. Their alliance along with the United States is crucial for regional security. Especially in such a dangerous area of the world with North Korea’s nuclear threats and Chinese aggression. And yet, these artificially forced historical disputes continue to cause offense and disrupt relations.


Comfort Women Apologies

Since the early 1990s, Japan has offered numerous official apologies. Upon signing the 2015 agreement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo abe expressed most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experience and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. But the Comfort Women activists moved the goal post again. And now President Moon says he wants another apology from Japan.
Lee Young Hoon a South Korean Professor and author of the book “Anti-Japanese tribalism” has argued that the historical disputes are rooted in nationalist identity, which in many cases rests on a fictionalized version of history. There are also indications of ties between Comfort Women activists and the North Korean regime. The husband of Yoon Mi Yang the most well-known Comfort Women activist and an incumbent member of parliament has been charged and convicted of Espionage passing military secrets to Pyongyang. Yoon herself has more recently been facing trial on criminal charges of embezzlement for stealing from Comfort Women. Former U.S senator Norm Coleman has warned that the North Koreans have actively sought to manipulate the Comfort Women dispute to weaken the trilateral security alliance. What if the goal of the activists is not more apologies but the maintenance of the status quo.

Who benefits from this fight?

It is certainly not South Korea, Japan, or the United States we should not allow false flag activism to distract from these facts.

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