On Dec. 28, the heads of Japan and South Korea came to an agreement over making reparations for the remaining comfort women.
For those who are unfamiliar, comfort women were Korean women who served Japan’s Imperial Army before and during World War II…as sex slaves. This happened during Japan’s colonial rule over South Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945, and contributed to strained relations that continue to this day.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many comfort women existed, since accurate records weren’t kept. Most estimates put it at a range around 100K to 200K. Women began coming forward about their experiences in the early 1990s.
Of the 238 women who’ve come forward in South Korea, only 46 survive.
Obviously, this is a huge abuse of women (not to mention that of human rights), so it’s good that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se are trying to make it right 70 years later.
In addition to a formal apology, Japan will provide $8.3M-worth of reparations. However, the money won’t go directly to the survivors; it’ll be used by South Korea to establish healthcare for the women.
These reparations are significant because it’s the first time the Japanese government will provide the money. In 1993, Japan set up donations provided by private donors, but it wasn’t fully accepted by South Korea. At that time, 60 South Korean women received aid from the donations.
It’ll be interesting to see how these reparations make a difference for the women, and how the action changes Japan and South Korea’s relationship.