Japanese Female Lawmakers To Meet South Korean Comfort Women

A group of Japanese female lawmakers have agreed to hold talks with a group of South Korean women who were forced to act as comfort women to Japanese soldiers during the Second World War.

Rep. Na Kyung-won of the ruling Saenuri Party met with a group of five female Japanese lawmakers during her recent visit to Japan. It was agreed that the lawmakers, including Seiko Noda of the Liberal Democratic Party, should travel to South Korea and meet with a group of women who were forced into sex-slavery during the war. The two sides have yet to discuss the details of the proposed visit, including when it would take place.

The issue of comfort women has created tense relations between the two countries in recent times. Some South Korea parliamentarians have stepped up efforts for compensation due to the aging nature of the last few remaining known survivors of the forced sex trade during the war.

Japan has, for some time, resisted calls for compensation, disputing much of the evidence that suggest the issue was one of forced prostitution and is as wide-spread as it had been claimed. Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ignited the issue once again by claiming that comfort women were victims of ‘human trafficking’, effectively removing blame from the Japanese government in some people’s eyes.

There is a body of evidence that suggest nearly 200,000 comfort women existed between 1930 and 1945 – most of whom were forced into sex-slavery by the Japanese army at the behest of the government. Although the main concentration of women were from the Korean peninsula, evidence from human rights groups such as Amnesty International and a UN report from the mid-1990s highlight how this practice was widespread as far as New Guinea in South-East Asia.

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Quint Simon

Quint is the founder and editor of Footsteps Asia. She developed a passion for women's issues in Asia after being involved in some of the amazing and innovative efforts aimed at advancing gender equality in the region. She is currently based in Singapore, via Beijing and Jakarta.