Park Geun-hye: Japan Summit ‘Pointless’ Without Apology
Image Credit: Flickr (jykthemuse)

Park Geun-hye: Japan Summit ‘Pointless’ Without Apology


South Korean president Park Geun-hye has distanced herself even further from Japan, telling the BBC that a summit between the neighboring countries would be pointless without a formal apology for atrocities committed under Japanese colonial rule. The issue of “comfort women” – women who were forced into prostitution at Japanese military brothels during World War II – has been a sticking point for Park since taking office.

“These are women who have spent their blossoming years in hardship and suffering, and spent the rest of their life in ruins,” Park said. “None of these cases have been resolved or addressed; the Japanese have not changed any of their positions with regard to this. If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one.”

Park, who was sworn in as South Korea’s first female president last February, has yet to meet with Japanese officials. She has taken a hard-line stance on North Korea – but has also heaped criticism on Japan.

Last month, Park told U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Japan risked permanently damaging diplomatic relations without apologizing for the wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.

“I know Japan is an important country to cooperate with for peace and stability in Northeast Asia… but trust has not been established,” Park told Sec. Hagel. “With lack of trust in Japan as well as its denial for the inhumane treatment to women during World War II, the whole Korean citizenry is very upset.”

Park’s latest statements echoing October’s warning, she added: “Relations with Japan are not a matter of summits; this is a problem that needs to be solved with the Korean people.”

The diplomatic strife between South Korea and Japan is also proving to be a thorn in America’s side, as the quarrelling countries are the U.S.’ top allies in Asia. Three-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. later this week, could be complicated by Park’s unwillingness to directly engage Japanese officials.

“Speculation is growing of a possible return to the six-party talks, in which South Korea and Japan are both participants,” AFP reported. “Their envoys on North Korea continue to meet for discussions, but analysts say a Park-Abe summit would be important in presenting a united front to Pyongyang.”

Apart from the comfort women issue, South Korea and Japan have an ongoing territorial dispute in the Sea of Japan. The Liancourt Rocks, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, are claimed by both countries. Yesterday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry asked the Japanese government to remove a YouTube video that promoted the islets as Japanese territory.

November 26, 2013 at 17:13

@ RisingSht, Japanese textbooks, its politicians’ attitude, and Japanese military spending have indicated an unmistakable disdain for truth and the victims of its savage soldiers, officers and commanders of the imperial Japanese army.

November 11, 2013 at 09:25

You just don't get it. Japan had never invaded Korea, but annexed legally under the approval of other nations and introduced 20th century civilization and infrastructures to modernize the hermit kingdom which was poorest among the entire Asia. What has 731 to do with Korea? What has a mayor's opinion to do with the high-level talks among two countries? Koreans are stuck in the recreated past, and never face the reality and the forthcoming future. Sad, sad people you are…, and I'm glad many Japanese are standing against Korean lies.

November 9, 2013 at 08:20

You are real hater of Japanese aren't you. I personally do not mind some people are living this kind of feeling towards Japan as long as it is their problem.

November 9, 2013 at 08:16

You should read news about Japan more carefully if you are making comments on Japan.

November 7, 2013 at 23:22

Well the problem is the latest Japanese government wants to revise what the previous government said because they don’t like it. Japan changes their international protocol and attitute on the war related issues anytime they feel like, depends on who is taking the government. Sooo inconsistent..

November 7, 2013 at 23:13

Well, isn’t it very provocative that the premier Abe took pictures in front of an airplane with number ’731′ clearly printed on it? In fact, unit 731 was biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army carrying out human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War and WWII. Nobody would know how many people dissapeared in it. I don’t think Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany would do similar photo shot in front of Auschwitz concentration camp.

And how about the Osaka mayor publicly say that the young teenage girls(start from 13 years old??) who were brought to work as sex slaves are nothing more than ‘prostitutes’?? These are just a few to mention.

All these nonsense comments were made in 21st century, digging out all the wounds of other asian nations they invaded. Why??

December 1, 2013 at 01:44

your comments are out of points. Can you state your opinions after a little more study?

November 7, 2013 at 12:04


   The Government of Japan has been conducting a study on the issue of wartime "comfort women" since December 1991. I wish to announce the findings as a result of that study.

   As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.

   As to the origin of those comfort women who were transferred to the war areas, excluding those from Japan, those from the Korean Peninsula accounted for a large part. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their recruitment, transfer, control, etc., were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion, etc.

   Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

   It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment.

   We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.

   As actions have been brought to court in Japan and interests have been shown in this issue outside Japan, the Government of Japan shall continue to pay full attention to this matter, including private researched related thereto.

November 7, 2013 at 11:57

Park could pick from past apologies and let it go at that. My favorite is the 1995 House of Representatives Resolution that stated:

"On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, this House offers its sincere condolences to those who fell in action and victims of wars and similar actions all over the world. Solemnly reflecting upon many instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression in the modern history of the world, and recognizing that Japan carried out those acts in the past, inflicting pain and suffering upon the peoples of other countries, especially in Asia, the Members of this House express a sense of deep remorse".

Not only that, the Prime Minister of Apologies, Tomiichi Murayama, apolgized once before the resolution and twice after. 

Here's what is happening now in Japan: A couple of the latest generations are getting fed up with the "You haven't apologized 'sincerely' enough" dog and pony show by both South Korea and China. And (what did you expect?) politicians are using it now as a means to political ends – just as Chinese and South Korean politicians have been doing for 70 years. The cow has been milked dry — man-up, forgive Japan and move on.

Jack James
November 7, 2013 at 08:15

The worst part is Japan did offer individual compensation and did pay significant amounts to her father's government. The Korean government at the time chose to spend the money on economic development instead of compensation. Now the current Korean government is on a misleading public relations campaign bad mouthing Japan and crying for more money. They should pay their own people with the Japanese money they received.

November 7, 2013 at 05:20

Yes Japan ruled Korea for 35 years until 1945. But how Ms Park explain the fact that population in Korea double during Japanese control, no significant protest by Korea after 1919 when Japan started to control more relaxed way, no Korean try to get rid of Japanese even around 1945 when Japanese military power was very weaken, and so many Korean volunteered to join Japanese imperial army that only one in 20 or 30 men could join? The fact of matter was Korean at that time was accepting Japanese ruling. It was not of course ideal for them but it was acceptable. Korean in present time cannot stand the fact that Korean at that time was accepting the Japanese control.  Korean are very proud people. That is why Korean is making their version of history up with basic story that Korea fought fiercely with Japanese rather than accepting it at that time. Japanese is not sharing this view. This is the reason for the conflict in two countries. We will eventually see who is telling the true history. 

November 7, 2013 at 05:08

Are you saying that Koreans were like Jewish? Had Koreans sent to the concentration camps because of your race? Had Jewish fought alongside with Nazi like Koreans did? Did Jewish population doubled like Koreans did in 35 years? It's more like Koreans should learn from Austrians, and apologize to Jewish who really suffered.

November 6, 2013 at 13:44

Japan needs to seriously learn what and how Germany has been doing to earn trust from other European nations after WWII. There are big differences between German and Japanese youth in terms of their understanding the facts and wrongdoings of theirs previous generation. Japan is the first Asian country to adopt the western way of modernization. Japanese government should not step back on stating the real history in school textbook.

November 5, 2013 at 18:15

The lame duck Park is busy defaming Japan in her every occasions and even attempted bad-mouthing about Japan to Secretary Hagel, who really is not in the position of getting involved with this pointless historical debate. And three days later, Hagel and Abe had announced an agreement to rewrite the Japan-US Defense guideline making Japan able to self-defense against the possible aggressors. Basically Japan and USA had moved on without Korea. The world is on the crossroad now but South Korea had decided to go back into her hermit state instead of choosing righterous path to the better future. Koreans will lose their identity without anti-Japanese sentiments and Japan has no desire to involve with this madness of their neverending inferior complex any longer. Sad people they are.

November 5, 2013 at 17:10

Maybe it's time for South Korea to look for new allies in Russia.

Putin to visit South Korea later this month




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