It took a lot of bravado for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to acknowledge and apologize for Japan’s war-time role in South Korean “comfort women” crimes.
Why is this acknowledgement such a big deal?
First, some history from the (somewhat) reliable source Wikipedia:
“Comfort women were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines. The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ‘ianfu’ – a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”.
Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 (by Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata) to as high as 360,000 to 410,000 (by a Chinese scholar); the exact numbers are still being researched and debated.
According to BBC News, up to 200,000 women are estimated to have been forced to serve as comfort women in Japan’s military brothels, most of them Korean. Until the end of World War II, Korea was under Japanese occupation and its people were forced to learn Japanese, which meant Korean women were easier to corral, and communicate with, than women of other Asian nationalities. Many died during their ordeal, and many others died later.
Now, consider that after all this time, as we are heading into 2016, Japan has formally acknowledged and is apologizing for their participation in a shameful part of history that was largely ignored until now. Kudos to the Prime Minister and Japan. (end)