In an attempt to smooth over relations with the Korean people. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan offered an apology to South Korea for Japanese war-time actions, specifically pertaining to Korean women who were forced to work as prostitutes in Japanese military brothels during World War II. The Japanese Statement came in a meeting with visiting South Korean president Kim Dae-jung. Although it is not the the first time that Japan has apologized to Korea for its war-time misconduct, this statment was given extra weight because it was included in a joint declaration issued by the two leaders called the ``new partnership''. This agreement opened up new areas of cooperation between the two countries, including the Asian financial crisis and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Korean survivors of the war are demanding official compensation and an apology from the Japanese government, but Tokyo has refused direct payment, saying the issue has already been settled through peace treaties. A government-backed private fund has raised money to give to the women, but many still say they want official, direct compensation. Kim did not say whether Tokyo should pay the women or not. On Friday, the Tokyo District Court rejected claims from 46 Filipino women for 20 million yen ($169,000) each in compensation. The presiding judge said the international law under which the plaintiffs sought damages did not permit compensation demands by individuals.
In the first ever visit by a Chinese head of state, President Jiang Zemin arrived in Japan asking for an spology similar to the one that Japan had earlier extended to the Koreans. Prime minister Obuchi offered Jiang the traditional welcome gift--a statement of "deep remorse" for Japans war-time actions--but refused the written apology that Jiang wanted.
Keizo Obuchi-Prime Minister of Japan
Jiang Zemin-President of China
Kim Dae-jung-President of South Korea
|10/08/98||A civic group representing the South Korean women forced into sexual slavery rejects Japan's apology|
|11/25/98||Japan expresses deep remorse, for war-time misconduct against Chinese people but does not apologize outright.|
Good article dealing with war-time sex slavery
Japanese War Crimes