Lawmakers urge action over Japan’s Kono review

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 18, 2014 - 21:32
  • Updated : Jun 18, 2014 - 21:32
Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties called on the government Wednesday to take more active steps over the row surrounding Japan’s review of its 1993 statement acknowledging the Japanese imperial army’s mobilization of wartime sex slaves.

A team of experts appointed by the Japanese government has been reviewing the so-called Kono statement, in which then Japanese cabinet secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged and apologized for the Japanese military’s “coercion” of women into sexual slavery.

Ahead of the announcement of the review results, some Japanese media reported that South Korea and Japan had bargained on the wording of the statement. Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that the Kono statement was made on Japan’s own probe and judgment, adding that it is not a document needed for prior consultation or agreement with another country.

Seo Young-kyo, a lawmaker from the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said that there is an argument that if Japan revises the Kono statement, it would be recorded as one of the major setbacks in the history of South Korea’s foreign policy.

“But the foreign ministry is not taking any measures (against Japan’s move), and it is taking a ‘wait and see’ stance,” Seo claimed.

As for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Lee Cheol-woo, a lawmaker from the ruling Saenuri Party, urged the government to lift its measures banning economic and cultural exchanges with North Korea imposed following Pyongyang’s deadly sinking of the Cheonan warship in March 2010.

He claimed that President Park Geun-hye’s vision for unification via trust-building measures would be plausible only when the government’s May 24 punitive sanctions on North Korea are eased.

In May 2010, the government of then-President Lee Myung-bak announced its moves to suspend all trade and exchange programs with the North, apart from a joint factory park project in the North Korean border city of Kaeseong, while maintaining minimum levels of humanitarian aid for infants and children living in the impoverished country. (Yonhap)