An event held in Seoul, South Korea memorialized the 2000 Women’s Tribunal. At the event, former Comfort Women were remembered, and the Mayor of Seoul stressed the need for Japan-South Korea relations.
In the year 2000, both North and South Korea held a tribunal which raised awareness of the plight of former comfort women across the Korean peninsula. This week, the mayor of Seoul revisited the historic tribunal, stressing the need for deeper South Korean-Japan relations despite the troubled history between the two countries.
Park, stressing the need for cooperation between the two countries, contrasted the relationship between Japan and Korea in comparison to relationships of European nations who also were at ideological odds during the World War II era. The countries in Europe have since gotten over their troubled past, and now work together cohesively to improve their economic and political spheres. South Korea and Japan on the other hand have not had the same level of success with each other.
During World War II, Japan occupied much of south eastern Asia. The Korean peninsula, of strategic importance to the Japanese empire, conscripted Korean women to work in wartime brothels referred to as comfort stations. In the time since the end of the war, former Comfort Women have spoken out against Imperial Japan and their experiences during the war.
South Korea has capitalized on the sensitive situation with Japan, repeatedly calling for apologies and reparations despite a number of them being given. The most recent was a 2015 deal named “The 2015 Comfort Women Agreement,” which
In 2017, Dr. Park Yuha, a Korean academic, was formally charged by high courts for her research on the Comfort Women system in South Korea. The high courts suggested hat her research impugned the honor or former Comfort Women and found the professor liable for a fine of one million won. This decision was widely condemned, and South Korea was criticized for bringing charges on an individual for sharing an opinion that went against the government’s official narrative.
The issue of Comfort Women has been the cause of a long time rift between South Korea and Japan, and has plagued the international relations between the two for many generations. Statements from the anniversary of the 2000 Tribunal by the Mayor of South Korea has brought light for the two to solve their differences finally and irreversibly.