Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s vow not to revise and retract the 1993 public apology to women forced into sexual labor during the Second World War is a welcome statement to South Korean President Park Guen-Hye. The two leaders have been at odds with each other for some months now but tensions have escalated with the news of Japan’s possible revision of the landmark apology.
South Korea has expressed “gladness” over Abe’s assurance that no revision will be made to the 1993 public apology. Abe made the pledge in a meeting at the House of Councillors Budget Committee last Friday, saying, “I’m not thinking about revising (the statement) under my Cabinet.” The statement Abe was referring to is the apology made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono to the comfort women who suffered from the suffering at the hand of the Japanese Imperial Army. Park was quote as saying she hopes that Abe’s statement during the session is the beginning of repaired and stronger ties between their nations, including other countries within Northeast Asia.
Ties between Japan and South Korea have been strained in the recent months because of various issues, including the aforementioned comfort women issue, which Japan believes they have apologized enough for, but Seoul believes they should still make atonement for it by giving financial reparation to them. They are also at odds over the South Korean-controlled Dokdo Islands, which Japan says is theirs and calls them the Takeshima islands.