On July 28th, the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation was opened in South Korea. This foundation was built to oversee the use of compensation funds, 1 billion yen, from the Japanese government. The compensation funds were part of the agreement reached between the Korean and Japanese governments in December of last year.
While the foundation has been built, there has been protesting against the Korean government paying for the operating costs of the foundation. Many citizens believe that it is the responsibility of the Japanese government to pay for the expenses because the Japanese government caused the wartime atrocities. Along with the dispute over operating funds, the arrival of the compensation funds is also unclear. While the amount of money has been decided upon, the date was never established. The meaning behind the funds, originally announced as compensation funds, has also become ambiguous. In Japan, the funds were more considered a donation rather than reparations.
The fact that this fund was called a donation is infuriating. Germany, after World War II, apologized continuously after the war, still is investigating war criminals, and teaches their students about the atrocities committed. Because of this effort, Germany has regained acknowledgment and respect. In Japan, the fact that this part of history is not even taught in some textbooks and schools depicts a negative image of Japan. There are survivors and evidence that a comfort women system existed. Relationships are built on trust and respect. There is no respect when a party does not show clear remorse or guilt after a crime. These shameless actions lead to mistrust. How can relationships improve between Japan and South Korea when the two most important ideas in a relationship do not exist? It’s disappointing that a government and people are not willing to openly apologize to keep an image. You gain an image through respect from those around you.