The issue of “comfort women” is a highly emotive and sensitive between South Korea and Japan. History is replete with similar examples were apologies would never seem to remedy the injustice that was carried out, for example the Jews and the Holocaust, Africans and slavery, genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The truth is that apologies cannot remove the stain of transgressions committed in the past, what it does is : it acknowledges the wrongs committed.
Therefore the apologies offered by Japan previously does not mean they were not made genuinely to South Korea. On the contrary, the evidence is confirmed by Japan signing the historic Agreement with South Korea in 2015.
Let’s be clear; apologises cannot replace atonement. The Agreement was the first step by Japan in its attempt to make amends for the wrong doing against comfort women.
For South Korea to request a further apology from Japan- thereby unilaterally going behind the final 2015 Agreement – does nothing but set the process and progress achieved between the two countries two steps backwards.
Other ways for international cooperation and agreement must be found to enhance the relationship between Japan and South Korea, so as to incorporate further support to the comfort women within the discretion of Japan.
It is understandable, that for South Korea that ‘apologies’ really cannot right all the wrongs. But, forgiveness of those wrongs will help heal the awful scars left behind by what was done by the Japanese military.
One is not asking the people of South Korea to gloss over the inglorious conduct of the Japanese soldiers or forget history , but South Korea must not allow the old wounds to remove a constructive relationship with its neighbor Japan, who has indicated before, it is prepared to do more for the ‘comfort women’.