The Slatest

Japan Apologizes to Korean “Comfort Women” in Resolution of 70-Year-Old Dispute

Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters about the “comfort women” agreement at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Dec. 28, 2015.  

Photo by Kyodo/Reuters

Japan’s leaders have apologized to the Korean “comfort women” forced into sex slavery during WWII in an agreement with South Korea to officially resolve a decades-long dispute between the two countries. The Japanese will also pay $8.3 million into a fund for the support of the few remaining victims of the practice who are still alive.

From a CNN article quoting South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida:

The two governments “will refrain from criticizing and blaming each other in the international society, including the United Nations,” Yun said at a joint news conference Monday.


Kishida said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”


Some victims and their advocates say the new agreement is inadequate. From the New York Times:

“The agreement does not reflect the views of former comfort women,” said Lee Yong-soo, 88, during a news conference held after the agreement was announced. “I will ignore it completely.”

She said that the deal fell far short of the women’s longstanding demand that Japan admit legal responsibility and offer formal reparations.

Postwar diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan were not restored until 1965, and Japan did not acknowledge until 1993 that it had systematically forced what the Times describes as “at least tens of thousands of women” to provide sexual services for its soldiers between 1932 and 1945. The country’s 1993 statements on the matter also included an apology, but not one that South Korea considered adequate to resolve the issue.