The Japanese and South Korean governments signaled a final resolution on the issue of comfort women on December 28,2015, and both have continued the implementation of the resolutions put in place at that time. Seven months later, the South Korean government had already allowed for the establishment of a non governmental agency called the Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing in this effort. Japan has officially committed roughly $9 million towards the Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing. South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also pledged monetary compensation for some of the victims and their families, although their implementation efforts do not persist without some doubt as to their ability to deliver.
However, the deal in Korea is suffering from what some would call undue backlash throughout their society, and some women have rejected the payments due them. The main gripe of the minor contingent of opponents is that the Japanese government should admit criminality for what they see as war crimes. They assert that the deal in place allows Japan an easy exit without an official admittance of guilt. Furthermore, the women assert that the Korean government itself had no right engaging the issue and coming to a resolution without their expressed consent, input and approval of any outcome. They still engage in Japanese embassy protests that are well over two decades old and insist that only a public apology along with the hearty monetary compensation is in order.
Civil society groups have formed as an additional source of opposition. The coalitions have made the process more difficult by obstructing the process at almost every turn. These groups have gone so far as to initiate an opposing foundation with the mission of effacing the strides made by both the South Korean and Japanese governments. The stable government payments would be replaced with voluntary donations solicited from the Korean public. Additionally, they intend to expand their miniature statue protests which are extremely divisive to the process because of their derogatory assertions to Japanese society, and this could be a serious impediment. President Park Geun-hye will face fierce resistance within her own party in her effort to fully implement the deal in the time she has left in office.
However, it is widely held that the present administration may have done enough already in order to safeguard the beneficial deal’s ability to be put in place by the Japanese and Korean governments. Even its staunchest opponents are admitting that the inclusion of the passage, final and irreversible, may mean just that. Additionally, the Korean political component on both sides of the aisle has had to admit that abandoning the deal would jepardize many levels of Korean business opportunities with Japan and like minded countries including America, and this would have devastating negative effects on the South Korean economy. Not only does this bode well for the deal, it also means that even renegotiation my be impossible which means the implementation of the deal as is is inevitable.
The entire industrialized world has eyes on this process and will judge South Korea accordingly. All that is left for the Park administration is to integrate the opposition forces into the process giving them a chance to have a say in fostering good economic goodwill with the rest of the world. These factors will implore the opposition forces to finalize the implementation process. In doing so, they will have signaled a new era of economic development for South Korea. They will also have created an initiation point at which many of the divides between South Korea and Japan can start to be addressed and with a road map to success in place.