The foreign ministers of Korea and Japan met with each other on Dec. 28 and reached an agreement with regard to the comfort women issue. The agreement is regarded as the Japanese government’s first official recognition of its responsibility for the matter.
At the press conference that followed the meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida said that the Japanese government is deeply conscious of its responsibility in regards to the issue that hurt the dignity of a number of women during the war period. He read a written apology on behalf of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which was deemed as the most heartfelt apology on the part of the prime minister.
According to the agreement, the Japanese government is to provide 1 billion yen for a Korean foundation to be established to support the victimized women. This is to deal with the pessimistic view regarding the Asian Women’s Fund the Japanese government set up in 1995. Support for the Korean victims via the fund started in 1997, but came to a halt in 1999 before being stopped three years later.
In the meantime, it is said that the agreement is not enough as far as the Japanese government’s “legal” responsibilities are concerned. Although the Japanese foreign minister mentioned that the Japanese government is conscious of its responsibility, the remark is very vague and is not clear whether it is a legal or moral one. In addition, the money to be provided for the Korean foundation is said to be somewhat different in nature from the legal responsibility-based compensation called for by the victims.