WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 28, 2015) — On Monday the Republic of Korea and Japan reached an agreement to “finally and irreversibly” address the tragic treatment of “comfort women” during World War II.
Comfort Women were women and girls of Korea and other nations that were forced into sexual slavery and prostitution by Imperial Japanese military following invasion and occupation from the late 1930s through 1945. The lack of official acknowledgement of these actions were a source of strain on post-war relations between Korea and Japan with pressure from other nations to not omit this chapter from history and address the victims, many who died during the war and afterward and others still living today to testify.
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said the United States government supports this agreement and its full implementation as a comprehensive resolution and an important gesture of healing and reconciliation that should be welcomed by the international community.
“The United States applauds the leaders of the ROK and Japan, two of our most important allies, for having the courage and vision to forge a lasting settlement to this difficult issue,” Rice said. “We look forward to deepening our work with both nations on a wide range of regional and global issues, on the basis of mutual interests and shared values, as well as to advancing trilateral security cooperation.”
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) said that under this historic agreement Japan will apologize to the Korean women for the physical and emotional pain and contribute approximately $8.3 million to a fund for the survivors. Chu has repeatedly called on Japan to acknowledge this wrong, most recently during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington in April, and welcomes the agreement.
“This is an historic apology for an historic wrong by Japan,” Chu said. “For the women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Army during World War II, the wounds have stayed open for decades.”
Unfortunately, for these women, Japan has often denied responsibility and blamed their suffering on war, Chu added. She said this has made it difficult for the survivors to recover and offers a shield to those who would repeat these horrors in the future.
“We have a responsibility to close this painful chapter and help the survivors move forward,” Chu said. “By acknowledging both Japan’s role and remorse, and by contributing to a fund for the survivors, Japan is setting an example for the world that such crimes cannot be forgotten, ignored, or repeated. I hope that this will help the survivors and the people of Korea and Japan to move forward in peace.”