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[Editorial] Taiwanese sex slaves

Attention paid to feasible negotiations with Japan

Following the deal between the South Korean and Japanese governments on wartime sex slavery last month, Taiwan is striving to open similar negotiations with Japan over the same issue for an apology and compensation.

Some foreign news outlets reported that the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry has already reached a consensus with its Japanese counterpart on starting discussions as early as this month on compensating Taiwan’s victims.

Historic records show that about 200,000 Asian women were dragged into brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Koreans took up the largest portion, and others came from Taiwan, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Korea was under Japanese rule (1910-1945), and its people pressured to learn Japanese. So Korean women were reportedly easier to corral than other Asian women.

The Taiwanese government clarified that it was demanding immediate negotiations with Japan.

Uncertainty still remains over occurrence of the talks, as the result of the Korea-Japan deal in late December is inviting a tough backlash from a growing number of Korean citizens, as well as the victims.

The ongoing protest on the streets is underway in Korea. They denounce both the Korean and Japanese governments for reaching a “unilateral” deal without first reflecting the demands of the victims. They also question Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sincerity in his letter of apology.

A key point angering the public is the apparent consent of the Seoul government to Tokyo’s demand to relocate the statue of a young comfort woman.

The statue, located in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul, has been a bone of contention between the two countries, with Abe and his rightist lieutenants obsessed with its removal.

While some Japanese media alleged that the statue relocation was a prerequisite for the agreements, a senior Korean official dismissed it in a meeting with a group of reporters.

Amid growing voices for a cogent, sincere apology or renegotiations between Korean and Japan, attention is being paid to Abe’s coming stance on whether he would choose to deal with the Korean and Taiwanese governments simultaneously.

China is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the issue. The Filipino government is reportedly downplaying demands from victims’ advocate groups for negotiations.

North Korea has called the South Korea-Japan deal a “humiliating agreement.”

For President Park Geun-hye, any further ties on economic affairs with Japan may not gain public support if she glosses over the backlash.