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Saturday, January 2, 2016

China Shows Skepticism on Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Apology WJS By CHUN HAN WONG

http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-shows-skepticism-on-japans-comfort-women-apology-1451386918

China Shows Skepticism on Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Apology
Beijing reiterates call for Tokyo to make amends for wartime transgressions after Japan-South Korea deal
Portraits of victims are hung in the memorial for ''comfort women'' in Nanjing in east China's Jiangsu Province on Dec. 1. ENLARGE
Portraits of victims are hung in the memorial for ''comfort women'' in Nanjing in east China's Jiangsu Province on Dec. 1. PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS
By CHUN HAN WONG




Updated Dec. 29, 2015 10:44 a.m. ET
BEIJING—South Korea and Japan’s move to resolve a decades-old dispute over Korean wartime sex slaves drew a frosty response from China, where officials and citizens alike have long criticized Tokyo’s stance on its military transgressions during World War II.

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday repeated its call for Japan to face up to its wartime history, while state media dismissed the deal as geopolitical puppetry by U.S. officials seeking to contain Beijing.

“During the Second World War, Japanese militarism forcefully recruited ‘comfort women’ across China,” said spokesman Lu Kang, using a common euphemism for the wartime sex slaves. “They have committed a grave crime. We urge the Japanese side to take seriously the concerns of the relevant parties and deal properly with the issue.”

Seoul and Tokyo reached an agreement over the issue on Monday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized for the use of Korean women in Japanese military brothels, some of whom were teenagers, and provided $8.3 million in government funds for a foundation to help the women. With this accord, both countries said they consider the issue “finally and irreversibly” resolved.

In China, many social-media users denounced Tokyo for what they saw as lack of contrition over similar historical wrongdoings on the mainland.

Japan and South Korea reached an accord as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized for the treatment of Korean women used as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The U.S. has welcomed it, but China has offered a frosty response. Photo: AP
“You can compensate South Korean comfort women, but when it comes to Chinese comfort women, you renege on your debts,” Chinese writer Liu Xinda wrote on his verified Weibo microblog. “They are all comfort women; on what grounds do you draw distinctions between them?”

The official comments echo China’s long-standing rhetoric against Japan, which intensified in 2012 over a territorial dispute between the two over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. That led to anti-Japanese demonstrations in a number of Chinese cities, including in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Japan has recently boosted military spending in part to bolster its readiness in the region.

Relations between the countries were further strained when Mr. Abe became prime minister in late 2012 and pushed for a more muscular regional stance. Mr. Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo—which honors Japan’s war dead—in late 2013, and subsequent visits by members of his cabinet, have also drawn angry responses from China.

But tensions have since eased slightly, as Chinese President Xi Jinping shifted focus on territorial disputes with other neighbors in the South China Sea and Mr. Abe has taken some conciliatory steps. The two met in April in Indonesia at a summit of Asian and African leaders.

Beijing and Tokyo have endured often-fractious ties since the end of World War II, during and before which Japan held large parts of the mainland in a brutal occupation. At the time, Japanese troops forced many Chinese women into sexual slavery, a practice that was replicated across other Japanese-occupied territories. China’s antagonism also stems from atrocities ranging from the 1937 Nanjing massacre to medical experiments conducted on Chinese prisoners by Japan’s notorious Unit 731.

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China’s communist leaders have long relied on stoking nationalism to help shore up the party’s political legitimacy and further foreign-policy goals. Japan is the most regular target of such publicity campaigns, most recently in September, when Beijing held a grand military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Bilateral ties have shown signs of thawing over the past year, after a meeting between Messrs. Xi and Abe in late 2014 paved the way for further high-level interactions, said Akio Takahara, an expert on Chinese politics at Tokyo University.

Even so, Beijing has often dismissed Mr. Abe’s efforts to repair ties as insincere, citing his efforts to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution and strengthen its military.

Such skepticism surfaced again Tuesday, when Mr. Lu, the Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman, said, “We are looking forward to seeing whether the Japanese side will do what it has promised.”

Chinese state media also raised doubts about Tokyo’s sincerity and highlighted anger over the deal among some South Korean victims.

Photos: Japan, South Korea Reach Accord on ‘Comfort Women’
A look at the women, the protests and the memorials for them.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met in Seoul on Monday to discuss the agreement.
Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops photographed in 1945. South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers on Monday announced an agreement to resolve the issue of ‘comfort women,’ including an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a support fund for the victims.
In January 1992, victims of Japanese sexual enslavement and civic groups held what turned into a weekly rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
The opening ceremony of the memorial for comfort women was held in Nanjing, China, on Dec. 1.
Flowers on a memorial wall commemorating former South and North Korean comfort women at the War and Women's Human Rights Museum in Seoul.
Protestors at the statue of a South Korean teenage girl called the "peace monument" during the weekly demonstration near the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Nov. 11.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met in Seoul on Monday to discuss the agreement.
Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops photographed in 1945. South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers on Monday announced an agreement to resolve the issue of ‘comfort women,’ including an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a support fund for the victims.
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South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met in Seoul on Monday to discuss the agreement. GETTY IMAGES Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops photographed in 1945. South Korean ... In January 1992, victims of Japanese sexual enslavement and civic groups held what turned into a weekly rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. YONHAP NEWS/NEWSCOM/ZUMA PRESS The opening ceremony of the memorial for comfort women was held in Nanjing, China, on Dec. 1. LI XIANG/XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS Flowers on a memorial wall commemorating former South and North Korean comfort women at the War and Women's Human Rights Museum in Seoul. KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS Protestors at the statue of a South Korean teenage girl called the "peace monument" during the weekly demonstration near the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Nov. 11. JUNG YEON-JE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met in Seoul on Monday to discuss the agreement. GETTY IMAGES Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops photographed in 1945. South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers on Monday announced an agreement to resolve the issue of ‘comfort women,’ including an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a support fund for the victims. IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
The official Xinhua News Agency questioned why Mr. Abe’s wife on Monday announced a recent visit to Yasukuni. “Taking into consideration the mixed nature of signals sent out by Tokyo in recent days, as well as Abe’s undeniable history of prevarication and obfuscation and habit for historical revisionism, people have good reason to remain doubtful,” it said in a Tuesday commentary.

In its midday news broadcast on Tuesday, official broadcaster China Central Television aired footage showing former Korean sex slaves protesting against the accord.

On Chinese social media, many users decried the accord as the fruit of cynical geopolitical maneuvering by Japan and the U.S. They say the deal helps Tokyo and Washington’s bid to use Seoul as a buffer against China’s rising clout in the Asia-Pacific.

“In the Japan-South Korea accord on comfort women, we can clearly see the shadows of the U.S. flitting in the background,” wrote a user on the Weibo microblogging service. U.S. officials have said they have encouraged closer ties between the two, and praised Monday’s deal as beneficial for regional peace and stability.

Scholars say Monday’s agreement suggests Seoul may be easing back from recent efforts to foster closer ties with Beijing.

“South Korea started to look to China because it wanted to rebuild its stagnant economy,” and gain leverage over North Korea through Beijing’s influence over Pyongyang, said Satoshi Amako, a China expert at Waseda University in Tokyo. Since then, “the Chinese economy started to slow down and it became unclear whether South Korea could benefit as much as it expected...[while] China’s relations with North Korean have been deteriorating.”

Global Times, a Chinese nationalistic tabloid run by the official Communist Party’s People’s Daily, dismissed the speculation that Monday’s accord would help Tokyo win diplomatic leverage against Beijing.

“Such analysis is not unreasonable, but exaggerates the strategic significance of the deal,” Global Times said in a Tuesday editorial. “South Korea is not a key factor in the Sino-Japanese relationship.”

“The comfort women deal doesn’t mean the South Korean society has endorsed the attitude of the Japanese government over history, and it in no way impairs the legitimacy of China’s demand for Japan to introspect on the history of aggression,” said the newspaper, which carried a similarly worded editorial in its Chinese-language edition.

— Felicia Sonmez in Beijing and Chieko Tsuneoka in Tokyo contributed to this article.

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com


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There are 46 comments.
Newest
OldestReader Recommendedaugust rossy
august rossy 2 days ago
Sounds like China would like to keep Japan disarmed so they can continue their strategic island building without impediment.

Patrick Meegan
Patrick Meegan 2 days ago
Chinese commenters may have a point that beyond direct relations between South Korea and Japan, the recent agreement and apology serves to enhance unity regarding balancing regional power.
By the same token, the nationalistic utterances of some in China regarding events in the 1930-40s serve as attempts to prevent Japan's integration with other Pacific nations in such efforts at regional balance.
Japan was guilty. Japan lost the war and was militarily occupied. Japan has repeatedly apologized. Japan has been a peaceful nation since the war. South Korea took a no doubt painful step in accepting this agreement, but it was the mature thing to do. China is not at that same point of maturity.


Curtis Beck
Curtis Beck 3 days ago
I suppose Red Chinese soldiers never laid a hand on Korean women in 1950-53 either...

Ray Kung
Ray Kung 3 days ago
@Curtis Beck Which side of the Korea? North or South? I suppose you haven't been talking to the korean much.

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