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Why the big fuss?

Jan 11,2018
What was the purpose of exposing the Park Geun-hye administration’s behind-the-scenes deal with Japan to settle the sex slave issue, if the incumbent Moon Jae-in administration was not going to make an issue out of it?

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the 2015 agreement cannot be a true resolution to the issue of Japan’s forced wartime sexual slavery as it did not reflect the voices of the victims. Yet, Kang said that Seoul won’t pursue a renegotiation with the Japanese government because it had been an agreement between two states.

Walking off a sealed deal would have been impossible as it would risk irrecoverable damage in bilateral ties with Japan.

But the Moon government did not explain what the government had sought by probing and revisiting the issue if it did not aimed to pursue a renegotiation. Kang said that the government itself will raise the 1 billion yen ($8.86 million) pledged by Japan to compensate for the forced recruitment of young women into sexual slavery during World War II, because it did not deem an apology from Tokyo had been sufficient. Korea wants Japan to “accept the truth as it is in accordance with universally-accepted standards and help restore honor and dignity of the victims and heal the wound in their hearts,” Kang said.

Her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono made it clear that the 2015 settlement that included the 1 billion yen fund was a “final and irreversible resolution” and that he could not accept Seoul’s demands for further action.

Since the government launched a special probe in July, President Moon and Foreign Minister Kang comforted the victims and made them think that they would pursue a settlement. The government has been doing things in a similar pattern.

It vows and moves towards actions that would win public support. But what it pulls up at the end are makeshift measures.

It acted the same way about the row with Beijing over the deployment of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system. It talks tough, irks the other state, and quickly wraps up the matter.

The government must become more sophisticated and discreet in its actions, as there is always a counterpart in diplomacy.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 10, Page 30