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2016年3月10日 (木)

慰安婦問題 日韓合意を育てるには

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 9
EDITORIAL: Tokyo and Seoul must be faithful to agreement on 'comfort women'
(社説)慰安婦問題 日韓合意を育てるには

In its concluding observations, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on March 7 criticized Japan for failing to "fully adopt a victim-centered approach" over the December 2015 Japan-South Korea agreement on the "comfort women" issue.

The Japanese government reacted with displeasure.
"That's a real shame as it (the panel's reaction) diverges greatly from the reception of the international community," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference on March 8.

But doesn't such a knee-jerk reaction to the CEDAW observations only convey to the people of both Japan and South Korea a message that is incongruous with the spirit of the agreement?

We believe the only reasonable response to the CEDAW observations now is to act faithfully on each clause of the agreement, one by one.

For decades, the comfort women issue plagued both Tokyo and Seoul, and the partners were finally able to reach an agreement at the end of the landmark 50th year of the normalization of their diplomatic ties.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as the leaders of the United States and other countries, hailed the efforts made by Tokyo and Seoul to reach that accord.

However, the contents of the agreement can hardly be said to have been fully appreciated in either country. In fact, there still remain very hard feelings about the agreement in both countries, particularly in South Korea.

Precisely because such is the case, no final resolution to the comfort women issue can be hoped for unless the governments abide by the agreement. And for that, the political leaders of both nations must be firmly resolved to abide by it.

Fortunately, some signs of change have been seen. For example, when a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called the women "professional prostitutes" after the agreement was signed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking in the Diet, immediately chastised the offending lawmaker for misrepresenting the spirit of the agreement.

And on the South Korean side, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se made no mention of the comfort women issue when he recently attended a U.N. Human Rights Council session. This was a first since President Park Geun-hye took office in 2013.

It is vital that both Tokyo and Seoul continue making these efforts.

Under the agreement, the Japanese government is to pledge 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to be established by the South Korean government for carrying out "projects for recovering the honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds of all comfort women."

This arrangement partly addresses the CEDAW's reference to Japan's need to "adopt a victim-centered approach."

The agreement also confirms both countries' intention to resolve the comfort women issue "finally and irreversibly."

Both governments must strive to honor this agreement and continue to calmly exchange their views based on objective facts.

To change the international community's perception of the comfort women issue, it is vital that Japan and South Korea work together to act fully and faithfully on the agreement and let it grow strong by deepening their mutual trust.


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