Japan will limit asylum seekers’ right to work from Monday, making changes to its refugee system that are likely to swell the numbers of those in detention centers, the justice ministry said, prompting refugee groups to flag humanitarian concerns. “We want to focus on responding appropriately to refugees that need protection,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told a news conference on Friday, adding that the changes do not mean the government will be reluctant to accept refugees.
About 1,000 Philippine women were forced into prostitution by Japanese troops during the war – they are known by the Japanese euphemism “comfort women” – a sensitive issue that had prompted some survivors to demand an apology as well as compensation from Tokyo. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said: “It’s up to the people who erected the statue to do anything they want with it,” he said. “I don’t think it is really a diplomatic issue, no.”
In every large-scale armed conflict, women are victims of sexual violence. In most cases this is kept quiet – by victims, perpetrators and government leaders. A few years later, when an attempt was made to turn it into a film, Occupation censors intervened again and ordered the rewrite of the script for a total of eight times. As a result, in the film, its main character was changed from a comfort woman to a singer visiting soldiers in a war zone. Lee Ok-Seon spent three years in a Japanese military brothel in China against her will during WW II. Nearly 70 years after the surrender of Japan, she visited Germany to make her story known about the ‘Comfort Women’.
Tensions are high between East Asian neighbours China and Japan. China accuses Japan of failing to repent for historical wrongs, while Japan accuses China of dwelling on the past. But behind the talk of the past there are also fears and ambitions for the future. As China speeds towards economic parity with the Japanese heavyweight, competition for resources and markets is growing. Both wish to match their economic prowess with leading roles in world diplomacy. Both are anxious to take maximum advantage of a rapidly changing regional power balance.
The announcement threw ties into doubt as both countries, important U.S. allies, seek to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. “The agreement cannot solve the comfort women issue,” Moon said, calling the deal a “political agreement that excludes victims and the public” and violates general principles in international society, according to a statement issued by his office.