‘Japanese prime minister, apologize for forced prostitution’

This video says about itself:

Two former South Korean ‘comfort women‘ in Tokyo to condemn sex slavery agreement

26 January 2016

Two South Korean victims of Japan′s wartime sexual enslavement of women held a press conference in Tokyo condemning the agreement reached by the two governments just under a month ago.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Diet,Lee Ok-sun and Kang Il-chul demanded Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologize to them in person and pay them reparations.

They accused Abe of trying to silence the victims by buying them off with what they said was the ″meager compensation″ outlined in the agreement.

They also said they do not blame the Japanese public, rather it is the fault of the Japanese government and Prime Minister Abe.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Former sex slaves demand personal apology from Abe

Wednesday 27th January 2016

by Our Foreign Desk

TWO Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in World War II are demanding a personal apology from PM Shinzo Abe.

Lee Ok Sun and Kang Il Chul, both now in their eighties and wheelchair-bound, told reporters in Tokyo yesterday that they rejected the recent settlement negotiated between the South Korean and Japanese governments.

The women said neither government had asked their opinion before reaching the agreement.

They added that Mr Abe’s statement did not address them personally and that his pledge to create a one billion yen (£5.9 million) victims’ fund was not for compensation but for humanitarian work.

“Not only has Abe not apologised but he hasn’t even tried to meet us,” Ms Kang said angrily. “Why doesn’t he come out and apologise? We want him to meet us face to face.”

Ms Lee and Ms Kang are among a handful of survivors from the tens of thousands of so-called “comfort women” kidnapped by the invading Japanese army and forced to have sex with soldiers.

They were sent to Japanese-occupied China when they were teenagers in the early 1940s and did not return to their homes until decades later.

Also yesterday, Japanese Emperor Akihito, the son of wartime leader Hirohito, expressed guarded regret for his country’s brutal occupation of the Philippines at the end of a visit to the country.

He noted that in the 1945 battle to liberate the capital Manila, “a tremendously large number of innocent Filipino civilians were victims.”

South Korean-Japanese governments agree, ‘comfort women’ disagree

This video from South Korea says about itself:

26 December 2015

PRIME TIME NEWS 22:00 Korea not mulling relocation of ‘comfort women‘ statue: foreign ministry

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun had claimed that the South Korean government was willing to consider to move the monument commemorating Korean women, used by the Japanese imperial occupation army as sex slaves, away from the Japanese embassy in Seoul. This daily is right-wing, with a history of denialism of forced prostitution and other Japanese armed forces’ war crimes during world war II. The South Korean government then denied that Yomiuri Shimbun report.

However, now, four days later …

By Ben McGrath:

Japan and South Korea reach agreement over comfort women

30 December 2015

The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea met Monday in Seoul to formalise a deal over the long-running dispute regarding “comfort women.” The decision will undoubtedly be welcomed in Washington which has been pressuring its two allies to mend their rift so as to collaborate more closely in the US “pivot to Asia” against China.

Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida offered a limited apology over the treatment of South Korean “comfort women” who were forced to act as sex slaves for the Japanese army during the 1930s and 1940s. He promised a one-time payment of 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a fund to be established by Seoul for the 46 surviving victims.

“The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective,” Kishida said following his meeting with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byeong-se.

“Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women,” Kishida added.

In response, Yun declared that the issue was “finally and irreversibly” resolved, provided “the government of Japan will steadily implement the measures specified.” He also agreed to discuss moving a “comfort woman” statue of a young girl erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul in 2011 by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

Comfort women” is the Japanese euphemism for women who were forced to work in brothels for the Japanese military during World War II. While estimates vary, approximately 200,000 women from throughout Asia, including Korea, China, and the Philippines, were recruited, coerced, and at times physically forced into becoming comfort women.

The joint statement stopped short of saying that the Japanese military had established the comfort women system or that women were forced into serving at the brothels. This is an obvious concession to the Abe government which has been seeking to whitewash the past crimes of the Japanese military, by claiming that the army did not organize the sex slavery and that the women were not coerced.

However, historians like Yoshiaki Yoshimi have demonstrated using documents from before and after the war that the military established and ran the “comfort women” system. The women were often deceived with the help of middlemen using promises of phony jobs or outright forced into sexual slavery.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye also met with Kishida and reportedly called Abe on Monday. The two leaders held their first bilateral summit in November where they agreed to resolve the comfort women issue, which Park described as “the biggest obstacle to efforts to improve bilateral relations.”

Surviving women in South Korea were critical of the agreement. “It seems neither government cares about the victims,” said Lee Yong-su. Another woman, Gang Il-chul stated: “This is not different from the Asian Women’s Fund. Only the Japanese government’s legal compensation and official apology will be the answer for us.”

The South Korean government will likely have a difficult time selling the agreement. Both major establishment parties regularly whip up anti-Japanese chauvinism to distract the working class from domestic social conditions. In fact, Seoul’s inability to push through a military intelligence sharing agreement—encouraged by the United States—with Japan in June 2012 led to the recent downturn in relations with Tokyo.

The government of President Lee Myung-bak faced public uproar over the agreement. Hoping to save face, Lee provocatively made a trip in August 2012 to the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, becoming the first South Korean president to do so. Nationalistic recriminations followed, including over comfort women, which did not end when Park came to power in February 2013.

Prime Minister Abe worsened relations with a visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in December 2013, angering Washington in the process. The Obama administration has been pressing South Korea and Japan to collaborate more closely so as to facilitate the US military build-up in North East Asia directed against China. The US has military bases in both countries.

President Obama pressured Park and Abe to take part in a trilateral summit in March 2014. Following the meeting, Obama took Abe aside for a private discussion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other issues. Obama also began applying pressure specifically over the comfort women issue, describing it as an “egregious human rights violation” during a visit to Seoul in April 2014.

Abe started to temper his stance. Despite having promised to do so, Abe stopped short last year of completely revising the 1993 Kono Statement, a limited formal apology for the abuse of comfort women. However, his government did issue a report that called into question the legitimacy of existing evidence used to write the statement. The Kono Statement, named after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, followed the first public revelations in the early 1990s of the abuses suffered by comfort women.

For all of Seoul’s talk about restoring the honor and dignity of the women, it is highly unlikely that the South Korean establishment was unaware of what happened during the war. Many politicians and military figures in the post-liberation period had served as Japanese collaborators in the colonial government or in the army, including President Park’s father, the post-war dictator Park Chung-hee, who was a lieutenant in Japan’s Kwantung Army.

North Korean girl band playing ‘Rocky’ in China?

This music video is called “Rocky” Theme performed in North Korea – Moranbong Band.

This all-women North Korean band, Dutch NOS TV reports, will do concerts in Beijing in China this month. The report did not say whether they would include ‘Rocky’ there.

In North Korea, there are lots of rules which should not be there. Including, I read, rules about dressing.

Some of the women in the band wear maxiskirts, some wear miniskirts. Is that only legal in North Korea if you are in a band, or what are the stupid fashion rules there exactly?

Probably, at the Beijing concerts, the band will have no miniskirt trouble. They might have so if they would play in South Korea. The present president there, a military dictator’s daughter, banned miniskirts in 2013.

Save South Korean shorebirds

This video from South Korea says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) @ Geum Estuary

One of 15 [+] Spoon-billed Sandpipers observed foraging within the Saemangeum Estuarine System, on October 2, 2011. This film is included in a series of videos taken as part of Birds Korea research on the feeding ecology of Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

From BirdLife:

New agreement for the conservation of South Korea’s top coastal wetland

By Mike Crosby, Tue, 10/11/2015 – 07:35

BirdLife International and the Government of Seocheon County have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation of the Geum Estuary in the Republic of Korea.

The MoU was signed by Mr Pakrae Noh, the Governor of Seocheon County, and Patricia Zurita, BirdLife’s Chief Executive at the BirdLife office in Cambridge, UK on 9 November 2015.

Through the MOU, BirdLife and Seocheon County have agreed to work together to safeguard the biodiversity of the Geum Estuary. The county government has pursued enlightened policies based around nature-based sustainable development. The BirdLife Partnership will support this through the provision of technical expertise on migratory bird conservation.

The Geum Estuary is now the most important wetland in the Republic of Korea for migrating shorebirds, following the reclamation of the extensive mudflats at nearby Saemangeum. It supports internationally important numbers of 16 shorebird species, including the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with Seocheon County Government to work collaboratively for the conservation and sustainable development of the Geum Estuary,” said Patricia Zurita. “Protecting this site and properly managing the coastal wetlands in the Yellow Sea is vital to maintain the East Asian Australasian Flyway alive. Shorebirds like the Great Knot and Far Eastern Curlew depend on healthy tidal mudflats to recharge and continue their voyage”.

“We are grateful to have the support of a great partner as BirdLife, an organisation that recognises the importance and value of Yubu-do,” said Mr Pakrae Noh. “We look forward to further collaboration with BirdLife in protecting biodiversity and especially the migratory birds that need Geum Estuary. We will strive to strengthen eco-tourism in Seocheon County, with the further support of BirdLife’s expertise”.

The Geum Estuary is of outstanding importance for Great Knot and Far Eastern Curlew. These species have both been upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered on the 2015 Red List because of the rapid loss of the intertidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea region of East Asia which they rely on to refuel on their long migrations from the breeding grounds in Eastern Russia to South-East Asia and Australasia.

In addition to its rich wetlands and biodiversity, Seocheon County has a distinctive local cuisine, in particular excellent seafood and the best rice wine in Korea, and a rural village lifestyle. BirdLife is working with the government to developing nature and culture based tourism in the county.

Spike Millington, Chief Executive of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership said “I congratulate the Government of Seocheon County and Birdlife International for signing this MOU to extend their cooperation at this internationally important site, which offers a different perspective on development than the rapid infrastructure expansion model typically associated with the Republic of Korea”.

During their visit to the UK, the mayor and his colleagues from Seocheon County will visit RSPB’s Titchwell and Rainham Marshes Nature Reserves, where staff from the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) will showcase the restoration and management of the wetlands, and the benefits of the reserve to visitors and the local community.