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S. Korea Accepts Japan’s Apology on Behalf of “Comfort Women,” the Women Themselves Are Like “NOPE”

korean comfort women

You know, if you’re going to accept an apology on behalf of someone else, you might want to consult with them first. That’s exactly the opposite of what South Korea did, when it officially accepted an apology from the Japanese government regarding their World War II acquisition of “comfort women” from South Korea when they were under Japanese control. Now, two of those women are speaking out, because they are not having this apology that completely left them out of the equation.

During World War II, over 200,000 South Korean women were forced to work in brothels as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers. At this point, only 46 are still alive, and they’re all in their eighties. None of them were consulted when, back in December, South Korea accepted an official apology from the Japanese government in a deal that included Japan contributing 1 billion yen ($8.3 Million) to a victims’ fund. The deal apparently also stipulates that the issue is “irreversibly” solved, and doesn’t require Japan to take any legal responsibility for the victims’ fund.

Way to throw money at the problem and then just walk away. Also, way to accept an apology on behalf of women you never even spoke to. Hmm. Throwing money at women that you expect to stay silent and not bother you. Sounds very similar to the way many men treat prostitutes. Too bad, you know, that they were actually sex slaves back in the day, and not sex workers.

Well, two former Japanese sex slaves—Kang Il-chul, 87, and Lee Ok-sun, 88—are not staying silent. They traveled to Tokyo to demand that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offer them an in-person apology and provide them with compensation. However, as reported by The Guardian, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon:

Kang and Lee, who live with eight other survivors at the House of Sharing, a private facility near Seoul, have asked to speak to Abe in person. But the meeting is unlikely to happen. “Not only has Abe not apologised, but he hasn’t even tried to meet us,” Kang said. “Why doesn’t he come out and apologise? We want him to meet us face to face.”

Both women are understandably furious not only that the Prime Minister won’t even pay them the courtesy of a meeting, but at their own government for accepting the “apology” in the first place. Says Il-chul:

This deal has made us look like fools. It was agreed without consulting us. How could they have agreed on this and pushed us to one side? I’m furious.

Ok-sun echoes that fury, saying:

It is as if the Japanese government is waiting for us to stop speaking out and die.

Meanwhile, the Emperor and Empress of Japan will be visiting The Philippines next week—yet another country from which they snatched sex slaves and to which they have yet to apologize. Activist, and former sex slave Narcisa Claveria, 85, told Al Jazeera in a press conference that “We have yet to achieve justice. We have lost a lot, including our dignity.”

Here’s hoping that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko take their so-called “peace tour” seriously and make more of an effort than their Prime Minister in atoning for their troubling past.

(via Jezebel, image via Melissa Wall/Flickr)

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