On December 28th, 2015 a great step was taken in the right direction for women, women’s rights, and respect for women. South Korea and Japan came to an agreement involving a statue of a comfort woman in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida formally acknowledged the despicable acts that the Japanese Imperial army committed towards South Korean comfort women. The list of comfort women testimonies and comfort women stories are long and deep. This is no well-kept secret and it has reached a global scale of the mistreatment of Korean Comfort women.
The statue that started it all, the statue that stands in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul is not the first of its kind, but it is the most impactful. The figure is of a little girl sitting on a bench with space next to her for patrons to sit. This concept spread, to countries where the Japanese Imperial army had occupied and been accused of comfort women like the Philippines and China. Its impact reached even further than just countries that were once occupied by the Japanese Imperial army, like Germany and Australia. While at first glance the monuments may lead the common spectator to confusion as it seems to almost be glorifying the history, it rather sheds a light on a dark and grotesque history and, like good art can do, forcing actual action. The statue lead to Japan having to address and eventually acknowledge their past of Korean Comfort women. While it is not something that anyone would like to acknowledge and while the men that committed these terrible acts are gone, it is important for people and nations to look at the past and come to accept it. This is the only way that we can change and grow. With effort, positivity, and hope we can, as a global family, help prevent something like this from ever happening again.
This agreement between two countries with a long and complicated past signifies that together as a family on the same planet can come to agreements and move forward in a positive direction. While Japan is struggling with its global image of power, they also have shown us that somethings require precedent over most everything else. To deny the past of the Korean Comfort women and deny Japanese involvement would not only be the weakest move, but also the flat-out wrong move.
Japan donated 1 billion yen (9 million dollars) to South Korea for them to decide what foundation the money would be best used. This does not erase the terrible acts or even a good enough apology, but again, it is a step in the right direction. The connection between Japan and South Korea has gotten a little bit stronger by addressing this issue with Korean Comfort women and Comfort Women in general. Hopefully, other countries with similar pasts of mistreating women can take a note out of this substantial move and move forward and in the right direction in terms of acknowledging and accepting the past and deciding to do something about it.