Nat. Council of Churches in Korea - Women's Committee

Japanische und Koreanische Regierung einigen sich: 28.12.2015
Erklärung veröffentlicht am 29.12.2015/07.01.2016

Statement on the 12.28 Agreement of the Korea-Japan Ministerial Meeting
on the Military Sexual Slavery (Comfort Women)

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) expresses a great concern about the agreement of the Korea-Japan Ministerial Meeting on December 28, 2015. The agreement is deeply flawed in all aspects, not only in the procedure used, but in the contents itself. It can be by no means justified as the two governments completely ignored the victims, the comfort women in Korea. According to the “clausula rebus sic statitibus” (principle of circumstance change), it is international practice and law that any agreement (or treaty) between states is always open to being amended or denounced through renegotiation. The fact that both governments used in the 12.28 agreement the expression “final and irreversible” proves that they have violated such international practice and law. In other words, their agreement was the product of political conspiracy.

In 2006 the comfort women filed a suit against the Korean government (Case No.- 2006 Hunma 788), claiming that the government had failed to resolve the comfort women’s legal reparation dispute and neglected the responsibility to heal the wound of the comfort women. Eventually in 2011, the constitutional court ruled this case unconstitutional, saying that the Korean government did not claim any objection to the Japanese government on the issue of the comfort women’s reparation and thus neglected the responsibility of the state to protect its people. Hence the NCCK regards the 12.28 agreement also contradictory to the constitutional court’s ruling in 2011 and declares it an illegal and unconstitutional act.

Furthermore, we believe that the 12.28 agreement imposed again the post-war order (or the system of the 1965 treaty between Korean and Japan) that has kept unresolved the remnants of Japanese imperialism. The 1965 Korea-Japan treaty had at least tried to mimic the international protocol as the two governments produced a written agreement. But the 12.28 ministerial meeting did not even produce a written agreement. It was a reckless attempt and at best it was simply a political promise or claim that has no binding power. Especially since the Korean government failed to carry out its own principle of “victims’ acceptance” and “people’s understanding” it is humiliating to even call it a political promise.

If both governments push forward the 12.28 agreement, in spite of all those flaws, we suspect that there must be a hidden diplomatic, military motif to strengthen the Korea-US-Japan trilateral military tie. It seems that both governments purposely rushed to the agreement as the comfort women issue has always been a stumbling block in strengthening the Korea-Japan military tie which is a critical pillar in the Korea-US-Japan trilateral military alliance. The comfort women issue has been a long-standing issue between the two governments for over 23 years. The victims themselves along with the civil society in Korea have struggled to reveal the whole truth of these war crimes and to receive a sincere apology and legal reparation from the Japanese government. Despite numerous talks between Korea and Japan, this issue has never been resolved, which shows the depth of the problem. Therefore it is hard to accept that this issue has been suddenly finalized and resolved. Even in the process of the resolution, the victims themselves, whose rights have been greatly violated, were totally excluded. The victims’ rights were neglected and an agreement was reached without a single document. This is a clear failure in diplomacy and another act of violence against the victims. The victims’ rights were not only infringed upon by the resolution between the perpetuating state and the victimized state, but also by the pressure of the international society to “forgive”. This is definitely a state violence. The pain of victims goes deeper as the perpetuators remain hidden. Forgiveness can only begin when the perpetuators admit their sin and the victims accept it. Healing begins at this point.

Hence, to protect the God-given rights of comfort women as well as not to repeat the tragedy of comfort women in the future, the NCCK declares as follows.

1. The 12.28 agreement described as “final and irreversible” is not acceptable and is even unconstitutional.
2. As the right to demand reparation of the comfort women is still valid, we will join them in the struggle to reclaim their rights.
3. The Monument (statue) to comfort women itself is a symbol of universal rights and an icon of Asian peace and therefore must not be removed – although Japan strongly demands its removal. The Monument is a crucial part of our struggle with remembrance. Thus we will actively work with civil society to protect the Monument.
4. If the 12.28 agreement is an attempt to strengthen a Korea-US-Japan trilateral military alliance, then we renounce it for the sake of justice, peace, life and human rights and for the peace of the Korean peninsula as well as in the East Asia.
5. We urge President Park’s government to restore the situation and to censure those who are responsible for future precaution.

The NCCK, together with the Korean churches, global ecumenical partners including the World Council of Churches and civil society, will consolidate all its effort to reveal the truth of the 12.28 agreement and to prevent any more distortion of the truth. We will remember the painful history in order to re-member us to bring justice to the distorted history.

January 7, 2016
Women’s Committee
National Council of Church in Korea