Korea Times: Without Reflecting on Past, Tokyo Can't Plan Future

Roundup: Talking About History

Several victims of wartime sexual slavery and their supporters held a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul two days ago. It was the 900th such gathering by the former ``comfort women," who have met there every Wednesday for 18 years to demand the Japanese government's acknowledgement [sic] and apology.

Sadly, no Japanese officials have bothered to come out of the embassy gate to meet them, or even watch them. Tokyo's ``total neglect" tactic is in line with its snubbing of resolutions on the matter adopted by the legislatures of the United States, EU, Canada and the Netherlands.

No government with a minimal sense of shame would behave like this. Tokyo alleges its imperial army ― in other words, its government ― was not involved in the recruitment and management of the sex slaves, which it says was done by private contractors. Even if this is right by any chance, could it be possible for private firms to operate military brothels without the government's permission during the days of wartime mobilization?

Historical records and, above all, the testimonies of the victims themselves suggest otherwise, indicating they were either coerced or seduced into the hellish situation by promises of making big money. Even Tokyo admitted this in 1993, but the revival of Japanese nationalism and a succession of right-wing Cabinets have reversed the tide toward denying governmental responsibility. This explains why expectations soared here when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took power last year....

Out of the 234 former comfort women who came out, 147 have already passed away with the remaining 87 rapidly weakening. Tokyo may be thinking that another decade or so of negligence will bury this issue along with the victims.

If things turn out the way the Japanese government wants them to, however, then it will throw away the opportunity forever to regain its lost reputation as a responsible, conscionable state.

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