Pacific News Minute: Japanese Ambassador Returns to South Korea

Apr 5, 2017

Credit Lisy_ / Pixabay

North Korea fired another ballistic missile yesterday and there are reports of preparations for another nuclear weapons test that could be timed for the U.S.-China summit later this week. With President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping set for their first meeting Thursday and Friday in Florida, two other East Asian powers took a step to repair relations…we have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.


 In December, 2015, Japan and South Korea reached what they called a final and irrevocable resolution to the bitter dispute over the so called comfort women. A euphemism both countries use for the Korean women forced to work as sex slaves during the Second World War.


Japan issued an apology and a payment of $8.3 million to pay for the care of survivors; South Korea promised not to press any further claims, but one issue was left hanging. Japan objected to the statue of a comfort woman that activists erected in front of its embassy in Seoul. The South Korean government promised to intervene with the activists, but the statue not only remained…it proliferated.


Dozens have been installed in South Korea and around the world and then, on the anniversary of the 2015 agreement, one appeared in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan, South Korea’s second largest city.


Japan withdrew its ambassador and its consul general in Busan to protest what Tokyo called a violation of the spirit of the 2015 agreement. Now after three months, they’ve returned, and while Japan stresses that its position on the statues has not changed, there are more pressing issues; North Korea is at the top of that list.


While the comfort women and the legacy of Japan’s long occupation of Korea remain emotional and difficult issues, the two countries common interests can be seen in the naval exercises underway this week off South Korea’s coast with U.S., Japanese and South Korean warships.