"Comfort women" Problem as a Catalyst for Civil Society and Nationalism in Japan and South Korea

2020
The term "comfort women" refers to the women, mainly from the Korean Peninsula and China, who had been forced to serve as sexual slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. The problem emerged at the beginning of the 1990s and became an impediment especially in relations between Japan and South Korea. The article analyzes how the "comfort women" issue was approached to by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in both countries. It is argued that while the problem led to
more » ... problem led to invigoration of civil society institutions, it also incited strong nationalist movements. Anti-Japanese feelings in South Korea contributed to lack of flexibility in negotiations with Japan and rejection of the apologies by the government of that country. Such reaction, in turn, weakened the position of moderate NGOs in Japan that tried to compensate the victims, and made them prone to criticism from right-wing movements. The paper examines these complex developments.
doi:10.24425/ro.2020.134050 fatcat:4elofojb5ff4tm66fv2fh2ki2q