Just before the end of last year, on December 28th, 2015, the Japanese government has issued an apology to the Korean comfort women of WWII:
“Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”
The words are accompanied by the payment of 1 billion YEN to a Korean fund meant to support the less than 50 surviving victims. In return, the Korean government will consider the issue as “finally and irrevocably solved”, and will refrain from criticising Japan any further about this.
I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. On one hand, this apology (the last one of a number of similar official apologies, by the way), does not seem very sincere, given that in Japan many people don’t see the problem behind the whole issue. Also, the sum appears rather symbolic to me, and its payment reeks more of hush money than an acknowledgement of guilt or at least responsibility.
On the other hand, I understand the desire to put an end to things and to start with a clean slate. I do not apologise for whatever happened in Austria during WWII either. And I don’t get it why the holocaust is used by the Israeli government to exempt them from criticism for their treatment of the Palestinians.
So, I am obviously on the fence with this issue. Maybe a gesture like this is all that’s needed to move on? Once again, I am glad I’m not a politician…