Responsibilities of Japanese Government and Japanese Society are at Question

Who Pushed the Survivor Into This
“We humbly recognize the regret of Halmoni, with whom we have been like a family for the last 30 years, the anxiety that she must have felt when Yoon Meehyang, our former head, left, and most significantly her anger towards the unresolved state of this issue, and sincerely apologize for inflicting pains upon Halmoni Lee Yong-soo, which was most unintended.”
Lee Na-young, the head of Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (hereafter the Korean Council), opened her press conference on May 11 with these words of apology. In preceding, on May 7, a Japanese military “comfort woman” survivor, Lee Yong-soo, had held a press conference, stating that she would no longer attend the Wednesday demonstrations and that Yoon Meehyang should only go (to the parliament) after resolving this issue. To this, Lee Na-young stated her apology.
However, who is really the one to apologize? Towards whom are Halmoni Lee Yong-soo’s frustrations and dissatisfaction directed?
The responsibility lies with no one but the Japanese government, which has pushed a survivor to this edge for not having responded to their voices even to this day, while the survivors have for 30 years now demanded that the Japanese government admit to the facts of violations, accompanied by a heartfelt apology and compensations based on the said admission, as well as the execution of preventative measures including unending truth finding and education.

Korean Media Should Immediately Stop False Broadcasting
Regardless of Yoon Mi-hyang and the Korean Council’s repeated explicit clarifications, some Korean media have been escalating their misleading broadcasting day after day by capitalizing on Halmoni Lee Yong-soo’s painful pleas, as if to create a “suspicious” impression. In particular, the “suspicion” referring to the 2015 Korea-Japan agreement cannot be overlooked, as far as we Japan Nationwide Action for Resolution of the Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Issue are concerned, since we have been part of this joint activism. We are referring to the alleged “suspicions” that “Yoon Meehyang had an advance knowledge on the contents of the Korea-Japan Agreement, yet had changed her position after the agreement came out to take an opposition stance,” “the foreign ministry held 15 consultations in advance with the survivors” etc. These lines simply evoke the demagogues from before. The statement by the Democratic Party of Korea issued on May 10 succinctly articulates the facts related this issue (in translation):
“The foreign ministry under the Park Geun-hye administration at the time made decisions over all clauses at the Director-General level consultation between Korea and Japan on December 27 afternoon, with no prior consultation with any survivors or organizations involved, and on the night of that day (27th), informed Yoon Mi-hyang, the former head of the Korean Council, the following partial contents on a unilateral and confidential basis: 1. deep responsibility; 2. apology and remorse; and 3. state monetary provision. Notably, the points concerning irreversible resolution, refraining from accusing or criticizing in the international community, and the removal of the statue, were excluded in that communication. The references made on advance consultations pertain to the foreign ministry’s limited courtesy calls, for example, on lunar new year.”
We clearly remember the entirety of the facts from having every detail of the course of events shared at the time, how what the foreign ministry calls “prior consultation” was a mere late night notification on the night before going public, in the hour that was already impossible to consult with the survivors, and how only partial contents were provided to Yoon Meehyang, while contents that would obviously meet disagreements were withheld. The Korean foreign ministry currently also admits to this fact, stating that it is “as stated in the 2017 review of Korea-Japan Agreement,” as the foreign ministry had later admitted that Yoon Meehyang’s assertion is correct.
On a completely separate note from Halmoni Lee Yong-soo’s statement, we strongly protest the privacy invasions through the escalating media battle, and demand an immediate halt of the inhumane broadcasting and ungrounded false news feeding. We would like to add that such news distortion by some Korean media may hinder Japanese society’s path-makings towards confronting the history for future peace.

Our Continued Joint Paths Towards Ending Sexual Violence and Building Peace
  The Korean Council’s activism is not only about the Korean Council. It is part of the global movement, which was built with civilians from around the world, who have joined the survivors of Japan’s military sexual slavery, who have showed us the way towards non-recurrence by ringing the bells of alarm in this world by testifying to their own pains to ensure non-repetition, offering courage and hope tow other women, who have survived sexual violence under war and conflict or in their daily lives. We offer Yoon Meehyang our absolute trust and support and shall strengthen our solidarity going forward in her new undertaking at the Korean parliament as well as her resolution to realize activism “unwaveringly in the steps ahead.”
Lastly, as Japanese citizens who have not been able to realize the survivors’ dire wish to see the Japanese government carry out their responsibility, we express our deepest apology to Halmoni Lee Yong-soo and other survivors from around the world as well as the survivors who have passed away. We will continue to be comrades in joining Halmoni Lee Yong-soo.

May 13, 2020

Japan Nationwide Action for Resolution of the Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Issue Co-Representatives: Yang Ching Ja, Shiba Yoko