United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 7, 2016
Executive Summary: The comfort women issue is not a matter of numbers, but of whether justice prevails. It is not a matter of compensation, but of whether human dignity is honored. A few days ago, the government held an ad hoc meeting with Taiwan comfort women. It asked Japan to make a formal apology, offer humanitarian compensation, lifetime care, and restore their honor. Will Japan deliver on these? People will be watching.
Full Text Below:
Several years ago Minister of Foreign Affairs Lin Yung-le told reporters the Japanese government had agreed to consult with the government on Taiwan and earnestly confront the issue of Taiwan's comfort women. Lin said the Japanese displayed genuine goodwill. Who knew that several years later, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga would tell reporters that the consultation mechanism adopted by Japan to deal with South Korea, would not be applied to Taiwan. Nor would Japan establish any new, alternative consultation mechanism to deal with Taiwan. Japan's arrogant and obdurate attitude towards Taiwan, so utterly at odds with its attitude toward South Korea, came as a shock.
The relationship between Taiwan and Japan has long been unequal. This unequal relationship reflects the gap in perception and attitude between the two governments. Taiwan sees Japan as a counterweight between the major powers. Japan, on the other hand, sees Taiwan as a bargaining chip in its dealings with the Chinese mainland. Taiwan needs Japan -- all the time. Japan, on the other hand, needs Taiwan only part of the time. Given their differing perceptions and attitudes, Taiwan's Japanophilia has become a constant. Japan's "friendship toward Taiwan", by contrast, has become a matter of convenience.
Over time, this unequal relationship between Taiwan and Japan has led to a peculiar "Japanese disease". This was particularly the case after Lee Teng-hui rose to power. Taiwanese afflicted with intense Japanophilia adopted a hardline stance against the Chinese mainland, They were frequently applauded for their stance. But anyone who adopted a hardline stance against Japan, was often booed off the stage by the opposition green camp. Given the circumstances, Taiwan's "special relationship" with Japan was nothing more than wishful thinking. People were persecuated even though they did nothing wrong. This was true in the past with the DPP, and it is true now with the KMT.
Judging by his rhetoric, Yoshihide Suga was merely conducting business as usual. He was merely perpetuating the Japanese government's long tradition of discriminatory treatment toward Taiwan. In other words, agreements made between Japan and other governments are not applicable to Taiwan. This demonstrates that Japan has not shed its colonialist attitude towards Taiwan. Worse still, the Japanese government has decided to procrastinate, and delay establishing any consultation mechanism with Taiwan. It perceives the comfort women issue as a Kuomintang election ploy. It has concluded it might as well wait for a Japanophilic DPP to come to power, then deal with it. Therefore the Ma government may still be in office, but in Japan's eyes it has long been a lame duck.
On a deeper level, Japan has long been ambiguous in its public declarations. This time however, it was extraordinarily frank and unequivocal. The main reason was that Japan knows Taiwan is not Korea. Taiwan has long remained Japanophilic, even as Japan has looked down is nose at Taiwan from high above. The comfort women issue in particular, has never been as sensitive as the Diaoyutai Islands issue. it has never been the main thrust of Taiwan-Japan relations. In short, the government has always tread lightly when it comes to Taiwan-Japan relations. It has never dared to offend Japan. That has led to today's contemptuous treatment.
The Japanese government knows that powerful disagreement prevails among Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties over the comfort women issue. Consensus is difficult to achieve. Also, the Mainland is currently keeping a low profile. For the time being, the two sides are unlikely to join forces. As a result, Japan holds all the cards. It feels no pressure at this time to compromise with Taiwan over the comfort women issue.
Now consider Taiwan's reaction. Our own Foreign Ministry not only failed to protest the Japanese government's statement. It rushed to whitewash Yoshihide Suga's remarks by explaining them away. It argued that since Taiwan and Japan lack diplomatic relations, any consultation mechanism between Taiwan and Japan would have to be different. It argued that since Taiwan and Japan currently have an "Asian Association" communication mechanism, obviously there is no need to negotiate a new one. These rationalizations were strained and incredible.
The problem is that rationalizations cannot help the situation. After all, diplomacy must be backed by power and persistence. When confronted with Japan's patronizing sophistry, one must not blindly and passively expect goodwill. As everyone can see, Japan was perfectly willing to sign a comfort women agreement with South Korea. US pressure was a factor. But the main factor was the comfort women issue seriously undermined relations between Japan and South Korea. This forced the Japanese government to make concessions. Therefore when confronted with Japanese bullying, only increased political pressure and diplomacy will have any effect.
During the 3/11 earthquake four years ago, Taiwan's generosity was unparalled. Taiwanese gave Japan "most favored nation" treatment. But all Taiwan has received in return on the comfort women issue, is the Japanese government's discriminatory treatment. Japan is reluctant to part with one thin dime in compensation. It is unwilling to even sit down and talk to us. How are people on Taiwan supposed to feel about this?
This is why the government must not wallow in feel good "Taiwan-Japan relations are currently the best they have ever been" sentimentality. It must not be afraid that standing up for Taiwan will harm Taiwan-Japan relations. It must not see the comfort women issue as a bargaining chip in Taiwan Japan relations. Only by shattering the long held unequal relationship between Taiwan and Japan, can we solve the comfort women issue.
The comfort women issue is not a matter of numbers, but of whether justice prevails. It is not a matter of compensation, but of whether human dignity is honored. A few days ago, the government held an ad hoc meeting with Taiwan comfort women. It asked Japan to make a formal apology, offer humanitarian compensation, lifetime care, and the restoration of their honor. Will Japan deliver on these? People will be watching.
稱日本政府已同意在年後啟動與我協商機制， 誠懇面對台灣的慰安婦問題，並認為日方相當具有「善意」。孰料， 年後傳來的訊息， 日本內閣官房長官菅義偉在例行記者會上明確表示： 日韓協商模式並不適用於台灣， 日本也不會就慰安婦問題與台灣設立新的協商平台。相較於韓國， 日本對台灣的強硬和傲慢，令人吃驚。
主要反映了兩國間的態度與認知差距： 台灣把日本當成平衡大國勢力的「砝碼」， 而日本則視台灣為抗衡中國大陸的「籌碼」；台灣的砝碼， 時時拿出來使用；而日本的籌碼，則是看時機出手。 在這兩種心態作祟下，台灣「親日」似乎變得理所當然，日本「 友台」與否則視需要而定。
尤其在李登輝當權後，由於一些台灣人高度戀日的心理， 政府對中國大陸強硬，往往可以贏得喝采；但若表現對日本的堅持， 則常遭到在野黨的倒采。在這種情況下， 讓台灣的對日關係常常顯得一廂情願、動輒得咎； 不論在過去的民進黨，亦或是現在的國民黨，皆是如此。
對台灣採取差別性待遇，也就是： 日本和它國的協議並不全然適用於台灣。 這多少反映了日本對台灣尚未消除的殖民心態。不僅如此， 日本政府也決定以拖待變，暫時不與我國設立協商平台；它認為，「 慰安婦」議題只是國民黨在選舉中操弄的議題， 還不如等親日的民進黨上台，再作處理。由此可見， 馬政府雖然仍在執政，但日本眼裡卻早已跛腳。
卻是如此「坦誠」以對，毫不遮掩。其原因， 主要是日本深知台灣並非韓國，台灣向來具有「親日」的顯性基因， 而日本也一直以居高臨下之姿看待台灣；尤其， 慰安婦問題向來不像釣魚台議題那麼敏感， 它從來就不是台日關係的主旋律。簡言之， 長期以來政府擔心影響台日關係，而不敢對日據理力爭， 以致今天有此待遇。
台灣朝野政黨對慰安婦議題存在極大的歧見， 難以凝聚共識一致對外。另外，在中國大陸的刻意低調下， 目前也不致有兩岸聯手的問題。也因此，手中滿是籌碼的日本， 根本沒有需要在此時就慰安婦問題對台灣讓步。
我國外交部非僅未立刻對日本政府的發言表達抗議， 反而還對菅義偉的發言進行「說文解字」，粉飾太平。其說詞諸如： 由於台日間沒有邦交關係，當然與日韓模式不同； 且台日兩國目前已有「亞協─交協」的溝通機制， 當然也沒有新設協商平台的需要。這些說詞，顯得捉襟見肘， 不知所云。
外交畢竟要有實力和堅持為後盾，且面對勢利而詭辯的日本， 更不能一味地被動期待它釋放善意。從日韓的慰安婦協議可以看出， 日本之所以願意與韓國簽署協議，除了美國的壓力之外， 主要是慰安婦問題已嚴重影響到日韓兩國關係的發展， 這迫使日本政府不得不讓步。因此，面對怕強欺弱的日本， 唯有升高政治壓力，並祭出外交手段，才可能收效。
最惠國」待遇。但這次的慰安婦問題， 我們換得的卻是日本政府的歧視待遇，連一毛錢都不願賠償， 連談都不願意談，這對台灣情何以堪？
的自我感覺良好，也不要害怕堅持立場會影響台日關係， 更不要把慰安婦問題當成砝碼，而要當成對日關係的籌碼。 唯有打破長期以來台日之間的不對等關係， 才能夠務實解決慰安婦問題。
賠償金額也不在多寡，而在人道尊嚴能否彰顯。 日前政府在召開慰安婦專案會議後，達成要求日本正式道歉、 人道賠償、生活照顧及名譽恢復等四項原則， 今後是否能夠具體落實，全民都睜大眼睛在看。