Japan’s Surviving Comfort Women Will Receive Reparations

Korean comfort women (Japan Daily Press)

Korean comfort women (Japan Daily Press)

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.

 

Rome Considers Zone of Tolerance for Prostitutes

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

Italian prostitutes (The Telegraph)

The Roman neighborhood of EUR is considering enacting various “zones of tolerance” around the city within which prostitution would be legal. Certain places would off-limits, such as public parks, churches and schools. This makes sense: A country-wide law dictates that cities can issue boundaries on where prostitution can and cannot occur. This is a bit of a legal loophole in Italy, where aiding prostitution is illegal (but restricting it to certain areas is fine), but paying for sex is totally cool.

Naturally, the prostitutes themselves are not happy with this, as it would cut into their business. The Catholic Church isn’t too pleased either, for obvious reasons.

There are precedents for these zones: In 2012, Montreal was mulling a similar thing, but wanted to restrict it to one street, away from the busy main thoroughfare. In 2006, the English town of Ipswich considered a tolerance zone after a spate of prostitute murders shook the community.

EUR hasn’t come (heh) to a conclusion yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what precedent this sets for the city, Italy and the rest of the world.