Growing calls for government’s white paper on comfort women issue to be scrapped

Posted on : 2017-05-06 14:45 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Presidential candidates and some of report’s authors object to passages defending 2015 agreement with Japan
The website of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family
The website of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

A comfort women report published on May 3 by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is the subject of growing calls for abandonment.

At issue are passages in the report defending the agreement reached by the Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe administrations on the comfort women issue on Dec. 28, 2015. Comfort women survivors and major presidential candidates told the Hankyoreh on May 5 that the report should be scrapped and a new white paper published by the next administration with more adequate reflection of the survivors’ views.

In a May 5 written response to the Hankyoreh on the controversy over the report, Minjoo Party candidate Moon Jae-in said, “To restore the dignity and human rights of the victims, the current report should be replaced by a proper government-drafted white paper that correctly reflects the facts and adequately reflects the victims’ opinions.”

People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo said the next administration “will need to see to the complete annulment and reexamination of the South Korea-Japan negotiations.”

“A white paper should be published that approaches the practical and history truths of the comfort women issue,” Ahn said.

Speaking on behalf of Hong, spokesperson Jeong Jun-gil said Hong “maintains that the comfort women negotiations were wrong and has said the comfort women agreement should be nullified.”

Yoo said, “Now that the intent to renegotiate the South Korea-Japan comfort women agreement has been stated, it would be best to observe the renegotiation situation and publish a white paper on that basis.”

Ahn Shin-gwon, director of the House of Sharing where 10 comfort women survivors currently live, told the Hankyoreh on May 5 that the report “is rooted in a fundamentally skewed perception of history.”

“There are issues with everything: perspectives, positions, narrative tone,” Ahn said, adding that the next administration “will need to push for the publication of a white paper.”

On May 3, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced the publication of a “report on the Japanese military comfort women issue.” It was a change from its initial plan to publish a government white paper on the issue. But the comfort women survivors - and some of the report’s authors - objected strongly to the inclusion of statements defending the Dec. 2015 agreement.

The ministry finally decided to stop publication and revise the introduction to the report, which was re-released the next day. Included in the new introduction is a sentence reading, “Given the passage of one-and-a-half year’s time, the report submitted in December 2015 has been supplemented, and we clarify that Chapter 9 represents the personal views of supervising researcher Lee Won-deog as written at a later date.” The revised report was posted again on May 5 on the ministry website. In addition to its posting there, the ministry also plans to distribute printed copies to central government agencies, local governments, and research institutions. But with even the revised version still containing statements defending the Dec. 2015 agreement, calls to abandon the report all together to preserve the dignity and human rights of the survivors are intensifying.

The Hankyoreh attempted several times on May 5 to contact Kookmin University professor and supervising researcher Lee Won-deog for his views on the controversy over the report, but was unable to reach him.

By Park Gi-yong, Kim Mee-hyang, Lee Jung-ae, Lee Kyung-mi and Kim Kyu-nam, staff reporters

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