United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 30, 2015
Executive Summary: Taiwan has long been friendly towards Japan. During the 3/11 earthquake, Taiwan made the largest contributions to Japan. But Japan's apology and compensation for comfort women from Korea, showed no consideration whatsoever for feelings on Taiwan. For the Ma government, which has prided itself on Taiwan-Japan relations being “the best ever", this comes as an embarrassment. Worse still, idolatry of Japan has never abated on Taiwan. Hsu Wen-lung has insisted that the comfort women "volunteered”. Lee Teng-hui has insisted that the comfort women issue is “settled". Do they have a shred of self-respect? Are they not the least bit ashamed?
Full Text Below:
Japan and South Korea have struggled interminably over the issue of compensation for comfort women. Under pressure from the United States, the two nations have reached an unprecedented agreement. Shinzo Abe, who has always taken an unyielding stance, has finally agreed to offer South Korea an apology and compensation. Park Geun-hye is a long-time defender of women's rights and national dignity. Park has promised that if Japan fulfills its commitments to the comfort women, the Korean government will cease to raise it as an issue. This agreement has unfrozen diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan, and paved the way for visits between political leaders. It has mended the trilateral relationship between South Korea, the United States, and Japan. Sino-US conflict in the South China Sea has intensified. The agreement has bolstered the United States' Asia rebalancing strategy.
Judging from the agreement, the Japanese government made major concessions to South Korea. Japan gave South Korea considerable face. Prime Minister Abe officially apologized to South Korea, and established an official one billion yen fund for comfort women, in the name of the Japanese government. Korean comfort women support groups however, were not impressed. They termed it the "diplomacy of humiliation". They accused the Korean government of betraying people's expectations. The Japanese government hopes the Korean government will remove the bronze statue of Korean comfort women from the front of the Japanese Embassy in South Korea. But the South Korean government has yet to make explicit promises. The private sector groups who erected the bronze statue are unlikely to back down.
Why was South Korea able to force the the Japanese government to apologize and provide compensation? One reason was behind the scenes pressure from the United States. But the most important reason was that South Korea has long refused to compromise, but instead aggressively demanded and achieved results.
The Korean people are tough. Japanese colonial rule was painful. Japan trampled over people in many countries. But South Korea has reacted with unparalleled intensity, and adopted the toughest stance. As far back as 1993, South Korea passed a "Special Articles for Comfort Women", providing victims with housing, medical care, and living expenses. Private sector support groups such as the Korean Council for Women Drafted into Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, have been even more steadfast and relentless. Its members erected the bronze statue of Korean comfort women that stands before the Japanese Embassy. The Korean public has staunchly backed the Korean government. As a result, they have been a thorn in Japan's side. After Park Geun-hye took office, the comfort women issue became the focus of controversy in both Japan and South Korea. Park Geun-hye demanded an apology and compensation from Japan. Otherwise, he promised, there would be no peace between Japan and South Korea. This led to an unprecedented downturn in Japanese-South Korean relations.
Japan has long insisted that its enslavement of comfort women was "normal for wartime". So why was it willing to offer South Korea an apology and compensation? First of all, Japan was subject to heavy US diplomatic pressure. It was forced to yield. America's "Asia rebalancing" policy includes three pillars: the US-Japan alliance, the US-ROK alliance, and the US-Australia alliance. But prolonged discord between Japan and South Korea left a hole in the United States, Japan, and South Korea relationship. It weakened the United States' blockade of Mainland China. It prevented full deployment of the US military. Therefore, beginning last year, the US government pressured Abe to improve relations with South Korea.
Secondly, Abe is attempting to implement "finalization diplomacy". He seeks to restore Japan to its former glory as a great nation. He seeks to end collective self-defense and shrug off the Peace Constitution. Ideologically, he seeks to end historical grievances, once and for all, such that the Japanese people need no longer need bear responsibility for past aggressions. He hopes that a one-time apology will silence Japan's neighbors, forever. This is his primary goal. This year is the 70th anniversary of end of WWII. Abe hopes an apology will silence critics of Japan's past aggressions, once and for all.
But can such a cruel record of past aggressions be so easily erased? Let us examine the agreement between Japan and South Korea. Japan has offered an apology on the comfort women issue to Korea alone, to the exclusion of others. This suggests that the apology lacks sincerity. Even the South Korean public remains unsatisfied. And we have not even mentioned Japan's enslavement of comfort women throughout the region, from Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Chinese mainland. Japan has offered an apology and compensation to Korea alone, while ignoring the feelings of people in other countries. Japan's selective apology will only provoke resentment in other countries. How can it possibly end criticism of Japan's history of war crimes?
Now turn to Taiwan. Taiwan has long been friendly towards Japan. During the 3/11 earthquake, Taiwan made the largest contributions to Japan. But Japan's apology and compensation for comfort women from Korea, showed no consideration whatsoever for feelings on Taiwan. For the Ma government, which has prided itself on Taiwan-Japan relations being “the best ever", this comes as an embarrassment. Taiwan's past responses have been limited to verbal condemnation. Seldom has there been concrete action. Private sector organizations have not done enough to back the government. As a result, the Taiwan comfort women issue has been ignored. That is hardly surprising. Worse still, idolatry of Japan has never abated on Taiwan. Hsu Wen-lung has insisted that the comfort women "volunteered”. Lee Teng-hui has insisted that the comfort women issue is “settled". Do they have a shred of self-respect? Are they not the least bit ashamed?
Taiwan has many bronze statues of Hatta Yoichi. So why do we lack the courage to erect memorial statues for Taiwan's comfort women?
日韓兩國長期以來爭執不下的慰安婦賠償問題， 最近破天荒地達成協議。一向態度強硬的安倍， 同意向韓國道歉賠償；而堅持女權及民族尊嚴的朴槿惠則承諾， 日本若落實撫慰措施，今後不再往事重提。這項協議， 不但成功讓日韓的外交關係解凍，為日韓領袖的政治互訪鋪路， 也適時修補了美日韓三邊關係的缺口。 正當中美在南海衝突日益激烈之際， 此舉也為美國的亞洲再平衡戰略再添一支柱。
日本不僅為韓國做足了面子，由安倍首相具名正式向韓國道歉， 日本也以「政府」的名義撥款， 供韓國成立十億日圓的慰安婦救助基金。然而， 韓國聲援慰安婦的民間團體對這項協議並不領情，甚至稱之為「 屈辱外交」，認為政府的作法背叛了國民感情。也因此， 日方希望韓國能撤除日本駐韓使館前的慰安婦少女銅像， 但韓方未明確承諾；事實上， 設立該銅像的民間團體恐怕不會輕易退讓。
除了美國在幕後施壓，最主要的因素， 是韓國長久以來對日交涉的寸步不讓， 並不斷積極爭取而獲致的成果。
在曾遭日本蹂躝的國家中，韓國一直是反應最強烈、 立場最強硬的國家。韓國早在一九九三年就訂定《慰安婦特別法》， 為受害慰安婦提供住宅、醫療服務及生活費。 民間聲援慰安婦的團體《韓國挺身隊問題對策協議會》， 更是不屈不撓地進行抗爭， 日本駐韓使館前的慰安婦少女銅像就是他們所設立。 韓國民間的聲音，有效地成為政府的後盾，讓日本感到芒刺在背。 朴槿惠上台後，慰安婦問題更成為日韓兩國爭議的焦點， 朴槿惠堅持，日本若不道歉賠償，日韓關係就沒有緩和的可能性， 這讓日韓關係陷入前所未有的低潮。
這次為何願意對韓國彎腰道歉賠償呢？首先， 主要是日本承受了美國的外交壓力，不得不低頭。美國的「 亞洲再平衡」政策，包括了美日同盟、 美韓同盟及美澳同盟等三大支柱；但日韓的長期不睦， 讓美日韓三邊關係出現缺口；這不僅影響美國圍堵中國大陸的力道， 也讓美國的軍事部署難以從「點」展開為「面」。因此， 從去年開始，美國政府便要求安倍能夠積極改善與韓國的關係。
要讓日本恢復昔日的大國榮光，除了在制度上要解禁集體自衛權， 擺脫和平憲法的束縛外，在意識型態上要擺脫歷史恩怨的束縛， 讓日本國民不再背負過往侵略歷史的包袱。也因此， 採取一次性的道歉，讓鄰國不再重提歷史，便成為他的主要目標。 今年終戰七十周年，安倍便以道歉的方式， 希望為過去的侵略歷史做個了結。
觀察日韓協議的效應，日本在慰安婦問題上獨厚韓國， 但態度缺乏誠懇，連韓國民間都無法感到滿意；何況， 日本強徵慰安婦的暴行遍及台灣、菲律賓、印尼、中國大陸等國， 如今卻獨獨對韓國作出道歉和賠償，而無視於其他國家的感受。 這樣的選擇性道歉，只會引起其他國家的不滿， 如何可能終結日本的歷史罪行？
台灣也是捐款最多的國家；但這次日本的慰安婦道歉賠償， 卻絲毫不顧台灣的感受，讓自詡現今是「台日關係最好」 的馬政府感到難堪。然而， 台灣過去對慰安婦問題多半只有宣示性的聲明或譴責， 而缺乏實際的行動，更不見民間團體主動聲援當政府的後盾；因此， 今天台灣慰安婦問題受到漠視，恐怕不令人意外。更何況， 台灣內部的媚日言論不曾間斷，諸如許文龍所說的慰安婦「自願論」 ，李登輝則說慰安婦問題已經「解決了」； 這種毫無民族自尊的說法，他們自己不汗顏嗎？