Japan’s Foreign Ministry has issued a document in German explaining its stance on the issue of “comfort women” after a statue symbolizing Korean women in Japanese wartime military brothels was erected in Berlin by a pro-South Korean civic group despite Tokyo’s objection.
The document, posted on Oct. 21 on the ministry’s website, refutes the allegations that the women were “forcefully taken away” by the Japanese wartime military and government authorities, noting that cannot be verified by any of the historic records that Tokyo has identified, while asking people in Germany not to use the expression “sex slaves.”
The ministry, which had already made such a document available in English, said the expression “contradicts the facts” and this point was confirmed with the South Korean government in a 2015 agreement between the two Asian countries.
The issue has long been a source of tension between Japan and South Korea.
A statue symbolizing the issue of so-called comfort women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels is unveiled in Berlin on Sept. 28, 2020. The statue is aimed at informing the world about the long-running point of tension between South Korea and Japan. (Kyodo)
The Mitte district in the German capital said in October it would allow the installation of the statue for the time being and that it hopes Japan and South Korea can reach a compromise on the display.
Some members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party have urged the government to step up efforts to convey its stance on the issue and said that it was Tokyo’s failure that the statue ended up established in Berlin.
Such statues have been increasingly set up by South Korean civic groups, including ones near Japanese diplomatic compounds in Seoul and Busan.
Issues stemming from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, including reparations for wartime labor, have hampered the building of friendly ties between the Asian neighbors.
Japan maintains that the two countries settled their wartime issues when they sealed a bilateral agreement in 1965, but many in South Korea believe that Tokyo has not repented enough for its militarist past, including the comfort women issue.