As many who live in South Korea and Japan know, there is a statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. This statue was put up to commemorate the Korean comfort women. The Korean comfort women stories refer to how Japanese soldiers during the second world war committed atrocities against women in Korea. They used and abused them. This issue has been dividing the two countries of South Korea and Japan for decades. Finally, however, an agreement has been reached that will help put the issue behind the two countries. This agreement was that Japan pay one billion yen to the South Korean government, so that they can set up a foundation to support the comfort women, or at least those who are still alive. In addition, the President of Japan issued an apology about the comfort women and said that he feels sorry for any woman who went through any sort of abuse. The two governments also agreed that the statue be put up in front of the Japanese embassy. This statue is popular among South Koreans. It is often surrounded by South Koreans, and they sometimes decorate it or cover it with fancy materials.
This agreement is a good thing. It paved the way for the two countries to move forward and start improving relations between them. However, what happened next threatened to turn the entire agreement around. Another statue was put up by a nongovernmental organization in front of the embassy in the second largest city in South Korea. Initially, the officials over there took it down. However, they later looked the other way as it was put back up. This made many people in Japan angry, because they felt that it hurt their pride in their country, especially since there was already a statue and since the statue was put back up as a visit was made by a Japanese official to a shrine in South Korea.
The people in Japan had felt that they had finally put the shameful issue behind them. They thought that they were paying a fair price. After all, they were giving up a lot of money and they were embarrassing themselves by allowing the statue to go up in front of their embassy. They felt that there was no reason to further escalate the situation by doing stuff that was not sanctioned by the agreement. The agreement was supposed to be final and irreversible, yet with the building of the second statue, it seemed like it was not final at all, or that its finality had not been agreed to.
It is true that many people in South Korea did not support the agreement in the first place. In fact, many of the women who came forth with testimonies did not agree to accept the money. It was and still is a divisive issue in South Korea, as many people were opposed to the plan. However, it is hoped that the second statue will be taken down. After all, both countries have a lot to benefit from the agreement and from finally putting the issue behind them. These two countries face regional challenges that are mutual. Both face threats from North Korea and from China. These two countries should be working together as allies. They have a lot to benefit from it, both militarily and in regards to the economy. It is a shame that the issue kept the two countries apart for so long. It is finally time to repair the wounds.