Achieving Kyosei in East Asia
Edited by Yoichiro Murakami and Thomas J. Schoenbaum
Chapter 10: Toward a Theology of Reconciliation: Forgiveness from the Perspective of Comparative Religion
Anri Morimoto 1. A PATTERN OF FAILED APOLOGIES On July 30, 2007, the United States Congress unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for its involvement in forcing young women into sexual slavery during World War II. The Japanese government claims that it has acknowledged the “comfort women” issue and has repeatedly extended its oﬃcial apologies to them. This claim is not unwarranted; in 1993 the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement that in part said that “the Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those who suﬀered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”1 The “Kono Statement” has since become the standard platform of Japan’s diplomatic stance regarding the issue. It was the basis for then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s expression of “profound and sincere remorse and apologies” in 1994. The succeeding Prime Ministers Ryutaro Hashimoto and Junichiro Koizumi issued letters of apology in 1996 and 2001, respectively, addressed to the comfort women themselves. Words were not all they oﬀered. The government helped to establish the Asian Women’s Fund through which two million yen (about US$19,000) per person was paid to 285 former comfort women in the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan. In addition 700 million yen (about US$6.8 million) was paid to meet their medical and welfare needs.2 In the eyes of outsiders, however, these...
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