There are some things that most all of humanity can agree on. We know that wars are bad, that peace and prosperity are good, etc. However, there are some bits of history where it seems that we just can’t seem to come to a great consensus. One of those areas in Asia is on the issue of South Korean comfort women.
A Lengthy Debate
The issue of comfort women stories and how they are told has been around since World War II. Some of the comfort women testimonies from the South Korean side are truly gruesome are terrifying. The stories of abduction and sexual slavery show the very worst sides of what humanity can possibly be. However, some wonder just how much of those stories we can accept as hard and fast truth. The reality is, every country wants to show themselves in the very best light and others as the aggressors in war.
Japan disputes the notion of Korean comfort women almost entirely. They have at times said that some Korean women may have been alongside their soldiers in World War II, but they only claim that they were there of their own free will. Obviously, the Koreans see things much differently than that.
The Meaning Of A Statue
Most statues that are erected do have some type of meaning to them. They exist to represent something to people about their history. That is certainly true of one particular statue that has a big place in the story of comfort women. The statue is of a comfort woman, and it is placed right outside of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea. It is a constant reminder of the side of history that the South Koreas tell their people.
This statue is particularly offensive to the Japanese. They do not view the issue of Korean comfort women as something that is being told fairly or accurately. To them, the statue is just a spit in the fact of their diplomats who are stationed over there in Korea. As such, they protest the fact that the statue is there in the first place. They would like to see it promptly removed.
How The Statue Could Help Negotiations, But Why It Might Not
The removal of the statue testifying to comfort women stories could be a big step towards progress on the issue between the two countries. However, most political observers believe that the likelihood of this happening is very slim. They note that there is increasing support for comfort women statues all around the world. That support is particularly strong among the youth in South Korea (an important voting block in elections).
Politicians in Korea and Japan both will opt to please their own people domestically rather than yield to the other side on an issue as important to so many people as this one is. Given that stark reality, progress on the Korean comfort women issue is likely to be slow.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan would certainly like to see the statue removed, but he believes that his own country has shown enough good will towards Korea to earn the respect from them to have the statue removed. Given that they have yet to do so, the Prime Minister is not likely to budge on his promises to his people to not cave in to South Korean pressure.
This is one geo-political issue that simply remains in the background at all times festering away. It eats at both sides that they are not able to solve this one. Still, neither is willing to give an inch as of late on the whole thing.