Please see below for an official Statement from our partner, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea about the agreement between the foreign ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan on the Japanese military sexual slavery issue
Crimes against humanity cannot be a subject in diplomatic negotiations!
Invalidate the agreement made by the Korea-Japan foreign ministers on December 28th 2015!
On December 28th 2015, the foreign ministers of Korea and Japan announced an agreement that declares a ‘final irreversible’ resolution to the Japanese military sexual slavery issue. The Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea that has been praying for the realization of God’s justice on this land is paying attention not only to problems of the agreement itself but also to attitudes of each government official involved in this issue. We believe that the agreement per se has obvious problems, and considering the attitude of each government’s officials, it is very dubious whether they had any sincerity in resolving the problem. We hereby point out, once again, the problems of the agreement and strongly declare that the agreement must be invalidated immediately. Firstly, the agreement reached by the foreign ministers of Korea and Japan on the Japanese military sexual slavery issue does not reflect the position of the victims at all. The recovery of damage should be done by having damage results removed and remedied as much as possible to relieve the pain of victims, realizing justice, and of course the restoration process should fulfill the needs and requirements of the victims as well as assuring compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and prevention of reoccurrence. These are conditions that international norms ask for as damage recovery. The key factor for the damage recovery shall be based on securing justice based on human dignity. However, since the agreement made between Korea-Japan foreign ministers neither meet such expectations nor reflect the opinions of victims, it is just a misleading agreement. Secondly, the Japanese military sexual slavery issue is a universal problem, which cannot be addressed through bilateral diplomatic negotiations. Over the last century when Korea was marred by Japanese imperialism and colonialism and wars, there were serious crimes committed by the government against humanity, which attracted significant attention from the international society. The Japanese military sexual slavery is the most representative example that drastically shows the pain of the people sacrificed by state violence during the time of imperialism, and at the same time, a horrible anti-human crime that should not have been performed by and to humans, and therefore we, as a civilized society, should face up to this issue. The resolution of the wartime sexual slavery issue has a significant meaning by which the level of ethical contemplation of humanity can be measured. In this regard, it is truly outrageous to think a ‘final irreversible’ resolution can even be possible through this kind of agreement between foreign ministers of both countries without any procedures to restore damage and to secure justice.
Thirdly, the agreement of Korea-Japan foreign ministers on the Japanese military sexual slavery is an extension of the inconclusive post-war settlement in East Asia, and it becomes an obstacle to establishing peace in the East Asia region. This time, the diplomatic agreement was hastily reached against the backdrop of the U.S. strategic intention, that the U.S. confirmed, to have ironed out conflicts between Korea and Japan as soon as possible to build up the East Asian order based on the alliances among Korea, the U.S. and Japan. History remembers that the war crimes that should have been settled in the Tokyo trials of 1945 and the San Francisco treaty of 1952 were covered up by the dynamics of interventional politics led by the U.S. The heritage of miserable history and uncleared past is lingering in East Asia and this agreement is part of such history. Diplomatic agreements not achieved in the course of securing human dignity and realizing justice but made to attain strategic interests will end up with nothing but conceiving more injustice and conflicts. There is a growing concern that the hidden intention of the U.S. and Japanese governments forced the Korean government to agree with this settlement, but what makes it even more deplorable is the inconsiderate attitude of our government following their request.
Fourthly, no provisions in regard to the Japanese government, a de facto party of responsibility, expressing responsibility for the Japanese military sexual slavery are included in the Korea-Japan foreign ministers’ agreement. The Japanese government had revealed its advanced historical perception in terms of colonial ruling and wars by clarifying the subjects, responsibilities and victims in the Kono discourse(1993), Murayama discourse(1995), the joint statement issued by Kim, Dea-jung and Obuchi(1998) and Kan discourse(2010) that have represented the official position of the Japanese government. Meanwhile, the Abe discourse on August 14th 2015 articulated the regression of historical awareness of this country by avoiding targeting the responsible subjects, and such a position has been reiterated in this agreement. Thus, the Japanese government keeps emphasizing that the Japanese military sexual slavery issue is terminated, not showing any sincerity in a responsible manner.
Fifthly, the girl of peace statue, established by the citizens hoping to remember this history, shall not be a subject of diplomatic negotiations. It is a major delusion if they think that the historical truth being remembered by specific people and throughout history can be erased by diplomatic negotiations between countries. They should realize that an attempt at wiping out the memory will be a way to prove how shameless they are, turning away their face from the truth. A person who shuts his eyes to the past will become blind and cannot see the present, and oblivion is a way to slavery but memory is a mysterious salvation. The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea makes a clear announcement that the agreement made by the Korean and Japanese foreign ministers on December 28th 2015 must be invalidated. The Japanese military sexual slavery issue has no ‘final irreversible’ resolution. The only matter that should be destroyed ‘finally irreversibly’ is the agreement made between Korea-Japan foreign ministers, which is irrelevant to human dignity and spirit of justice. The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea emphasizes that we need to deal with this issue as a matter of responsibility for historical crimes from the perspective of justice that has been consistently underlined in the Bible. The key point of the justice mentioned in the Bible is to achieve wholeness of the relationship between God and humans, and to express that wholeness, achieving wholeness of the relationship between humans is required. The wholeness of human relations depends on whether the socially vulnerable people and the most desperate people are able to keep their dignity and life. It is about fulfilling the requirements of human rights and justice and this is a viewpoint of universal human rights and justice from which we need to deal with the Japanese military sexual slavery issue. It stringently asks us to make perpetrators take responsibility while entailing efforts to restore damage. As long as these conditions are not satisfied, there is no ‘final irreversible’ resolution. The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea will pay attention to the resolving process of this issue along with fellow believers all around the world, and dedicate ourselves to find a way for fundamental resolution.
January 14th 2016
Rev. Choi, Bu-ok, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church in the Republic of Korea
Rev. Kim, Kyung-ho, Chairperson of the Church and Society Committee of the
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea
For more information see Coalition Declaration Feb 16 and Letter of Demands to the Japanese Government Feb 16