Korean Comfort Women protest in Sydney

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Of all the places one might protest the Japanese Imperial Army’s use of Korean “comfort women” during WW2, I was surprised to see Sydney on the list. The picture above is out the front of the Japanese Consulate in Sydney. At the end of last year, Japan finally agreed to pay ¥1 billion to Korea as compensation for its comfort women actions during the occupation. The question is why have Koreans not sought the same reparations from the US?

“The compensation would be “final and irreversible” if Japan fulfils its responsibilities”, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said after talks in Seoul with his Japanese Foreign Minister Mr. Fumio Kishida.

As part of the agreement Seoul said it would try to relocate a statue symbolising comfort women from in front of the Japanese embassy through consultations with relevant NGOs and would also refrain from bringing up the comfort women issue again in international forums according to Yun Byung-Se.

While the trauma of those events are naturally unspeakable (Unfortunately commonplace throughout the history of wars over millennia) why does the Sth Korean government turn a blind eye to the rape of Korean women by US soldiers during the Korean War and subsequent garrison?  Of course the US plays an important role in keeping peace in the Korean Peninsula  although the crime of rape/comfort women is no different to Japan. The relative rape number doesn’t make the crime any less relevant to the victims?

According to a Korean villager’s account  who lived through the war:

“To ward off  (incidents of) sexual assaults by violent (US) soldiers, the villagers slackened their rigid traditions of Confucian sexual morality and accepted prostitution. Once we had justified this to ourselves, we even turned it into a source of revenue. The villagers supported the prostitutes, even though they were outsiders, while viewing prostitution as a necessary evil in order to protect the chastity of their own family members and relatives.”

It was well known by the Korean authorities leading to laws in the early 1960s legalizing prostitution in certain areas.

Professor Choi il Song of Dong-A University said,

“There is no clear difference between the way that comfort women were recruited by the Japanese Army and the way that they were recruited by the US Army. However, the comfort women system administered by Japan is considered a product of Japanese colonial rule, whereas the US Army liberated Korea from Japanese rule and came to South Korea as an ally during the Korean War. Therefore, the way Koreans feel about the two systems is quite different. “

To the point of the Sydney protest, Japan has always had issues coming to terms with its history in text books. Japanese know about Pearl Harbour, the atom bombs and their loss but much of their colonial war crimes are glossed over in the history books. The Nanking Massacre or Unit 731 in Manchuria which conducted biological experiments on the local population to name a few. Professor Ishii, head of Unit 731 was spared the gallows for corroborating with the US Army on his findings on biological warfare. Despite willfully murdering innocent civilians through the most barbaric and torturous means that would make the likes of Mengele wince, the US authorities saw greater value in Ishii’s technological and medical findings than punishing  him for the deaths of 10,000s.

Sir Winston Churchill said, “History is written by the victor.”

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