Sex slaves, forced labour: Why S Korea, Japan ties remain tense | Women’s Rights News

Strain is rising on Japan and South Korea to resolve their historic feuds, with Seoul’s high courtroom set to look at a case that might see the property of some Japanese companies bought off to compensate Korean wartime labourers.

The case is considered one of dozens that South Koreans have lodged towards Japan, which colonised the Korean peninsula from 1910 – 1945, in search of reparations for compelled labour and sexual slavery in Japanese army brothels throughout World Struggle II.

The South Korean Supreme Court docket, in a collection of landmark rulings in 2018, has already ordered Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Metal to compensate some 14 former staff for his or her brutal remedy and unpaid labour.

A lot of them at the moment are of their 90s, and several other have died for the reason that rulings with out seeing any compensation.

“I can not cross away earlier than receiving an apology from Japan,” one of many former labourers, Yang Geum-deok, wrote in a current letter to the South Korean authorities. The 93 12 months previous, who was despatched to work at a Mitsubishi plane manufacturing unit in 1944, when she was 14, stated the Japanese firm “must apologise and switch over the cash”.

However each Mitsubishi Heavy and Nippon Metal have refused to adjust to the rulings, with the Japanese authorities insisting the problem has been settled in previous bilateral agreements.

Lee Choon-shik, a victim of wartime forced labor during the Japanese colonial period, holds a banner that reads "Apologize for forced labour and fulfill the compensation" during an anti-Japan protest on Liberation Day in Seoul, South Korea, August 15, 2019.
Lee Choon-shik, a sufferer of wartime compelled labour throughout the Japanese colonial interval, holds a banner that reads ‘Apologise for compelled labour and fulfil the compensation’ throughout an anti-Japan protest on Liberation Day in Seoul, South Korea, on August 15, 2019 [File: Kim Hong-Ji/ Reuters]
Students hold portraits of deceased former South Korean "comfort women" during a weekly anti-Japan rally in Seoul, South Korea, August 15, 2018.
College students maintain portraits of deceased former South Korean intercourse slaves throughout an anti-Japan rally in Seoul, South Korea, on August 15, 2018 [File: Kim Hong-Ji/ Reuters]

The South Korean Supreme Court docket is now set to deliberate on a decrease courtroom ruling that ordered the liquidation of a few of Mitusbishi Heavy Industries’ property, and consultants are urging Seoul and Tokyo to succeed in a decision earlier than a verdict is introduced.

They are saying the long-running feuds may threaten safety cooperation between the 2 neighbours at a time when North Korea has warned of preemptive nuclear strikes and launched an unprecedented variety of missiles and weapons checks. The stakes are excessive for america, too. For Washington, which has army bases and troops in each international locations, the feuds undermine its efforts to construct an Indo-Pacific alliance to counter China’s rising international affect.

Japan and South Korea have “received to avert the upcoming Sword of Damocles,” stated Daniel Sneider, lecturer in East Asian Research at Stanford College within the US. “If the courtroom strikes forward to grab the property of Japanese corporations, then every little thing breaks down,” he stated, with probably “tragic” penalties for international commerce, in addition to the US’s skill to defend its two allies within the occasion of a North Korean assault.

As calls develop for a settlement, right here’s a have a look at the historical past behind the bitter feuds and why they appear so intractable.

‘Consolation girls’

Japan and Korea share a protracted historical past of rivalry and conflict. The Japanese have repeatedly tried to invade the Korean peninsula, and succeeded in annexing and colonising it in 1910. Throughout World Struggle II, Japanese authorities compelled tens of 1000’s of Koreans to work in factories and mines and despatched girls and women into army brothels. A United Nations professional, in a 1996 report, stated some 200,000 Korean “consolation girls” have been compelled right into a system of “army sexual slavery” and known as the abuses “crimes towards humanity”.

After Japan’s rule of Korea led to 1945, the peninsula was cut up alongside the thirty eighth parallel, with rival governments taking energy in Pyongyang and Seoul. The US, which backed the federal government in Seoul, lobbied it for higher relations with Tokyo. And after 14 years of secretive negotiations, South Korea and Japan in 1965 signed a treaty normalising relations. Underneath that deal, Japan agreed to supply South Korea with $500m in grants and loans and any points regarding property, rights and pursuits of the 2 international locations and their peoples have been thought-about to “have been settled fully and eventually”.

However the settlement set off mass protests in South Korea, with the opposition and scholar demonstrators accusing then-President Park Chung-hee of “promoting away the nation” for a “paltry sum”. The federal government imposed martial regulation to quash the nationwide demonstrations and went on to make use of the Japanese funds to kick-start South Korea’s growth, together with by constructing highways and a metal manufacturing unit.

Grievances over the problem of compelled labour and sexual slavery continued to fester, nonetheless.

Within the early 90s, South Korean victims of compelled labour, together with Yang Geum-deok, filed for compensation in Japanese courts whereas survivors of the army brothels went public with accounts of their abuses. The Japanese courts threw out the Korean compelled labour petitions, however in 1993, the Japanese chief cupboard secretary, Yohei Kono, publicly supplied “honest apologies and regret” for the army’s involvement within the compelled recruitment of Korean girls for intercourse.

Two years later, Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Marayama acknowledged the struggling brought on by Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression” and made a “profound apology to all those that, as wartime consolation girls, suffered emotional and bodily wounds that may by no means be closed”. He additionally established a fund from non-public contributions to compensate victims in South Korea and different Asian international locations.

Japan’s apologies

However many in South Korea didn’t contemplate Japan’s regret as honest, and tensions flared once more when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was first elected in 2006, claimed there was no proof to recommend Japan coerced Korean girls into sexual slavery. Throughout Abe’s second stint as prime minister, his authorities stated the ladies shouldn’t be known as “intercourse slaves” and stated figures equivalent to 200,000 consolation girls lacked “concrete proof”.

The claims angered South Koreans, however nonetheless, amid issues over North Korea’s rising nuclear arsenal, the federal government of then-President Park Geun-hye – the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee – signed a brand new take care of Tokyo, agreeing to “lastly and irreversibly” resolve the “consolation girls” challenge in return for a renewed apology and a 1 billion yen (now $6.9m) fund to assist the victims. On the time, 46 of the 239 girls who had registered with the South Korean authorities have been nonetheless alive in South Korea, and 34 of them acquired compensation.

Others condemned the deal, nonetheless, saying it had ignored their calls for that Japan take obligation for the atrocities and supply official reparations.

Park was later impeached and jailed for corruption, and her successor, Moon Jae-in, dismantled the fund in 2018.

It was that very same 12 months that the South Korean Supreme Court docket ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Metal to compensate Korean wartime labourers.

Japan responded furiously, calling the rulings “completely unacceptable” and eradicating South Korea’s favoured commerce accomplice standing and imposing export controls on chemical compounds important to the Korean semiconductor business. It additionally warned of “critical” ramifications ought to the Japanese corporations’ property be seized. Moon’s authorities, in the meantime, additionally downgraded Japan’s commerce standing and practically scrapped a army intelligence pact, whereas South Koreans launched a boycott of Japanese items, together with the beer model, Asahi, and the clothes firm, Uniqlo.

The disaster was the worst for the reason that two international locations normalised ties.

The current change in South Korea’s presidency, from Moon to Yoon Suk-yeol, has raised hopes of a thaw.

Two days after his election victory in March, Yoon spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in regards to the want for the 2 nations to work collectively. Yoon promised to advertise “pleasant relations” whereas Kishida stated ties between the 2 international locations are “indispensable” at a time when the world was “confronted with epoch-making adjustments”.

‘Ball is in Korea’s courtroom’

However regardless of the nice and cozy rhetoric, makes an attempt to rearrange a gathering between the 2 leaders have but to bear fruit. Yoon invited Kishida to his inauguration, however the Japanese overseas minister attended. Equally, an try at arranging a gathering throughout US President Joe Biden’s go to to Asia in Might and a NATO assembly in June additionally failed.

“Japanese politicians suppose the ball is in Korea’s courtroom and need to see how Yoon will deal with the compelled labour challenge,” stated Jeffrey Kingston, professor of historical past and Asian research on the Temple College in Japan.

“The prevailing view is scepticism about overcoming historical past controversies and a sense that Korea performs the historical past card to badger and humiliate Japan for colonial-era misdeeds. This feeds right into a sanctimonious nationalism and condescending views in the direction of Korea amongst Japanese conservatives. Mainly, the prices of unhealthy relation­s with Korea usually are not seen to be very excessive and never price making concessions,” he stated.

In a bid to discover a method ahead, Yoon in June convened a gaggle of victims, consultants and officers to advise the federal government on the compelled labour challenge. The group has mentioned a number of options, in accordance with native media reviews, together with establishing a joint fund managed by two governments utilizing voluntary contributions from South Korean and Japanese corporations to compensate the compelled labour victims.

However a number of victims are towards the thought.

“If it have been in regards to the cash, I’d have given up by now,” Yang Geum-deok wrote in her letter, stressing that she would “by no means settle for” the cash if “different folks give it to me”.

Victims of sexual slavery, in the meantime, are interesting for a United Nations judgement on the problem.

Lee Yong-soo, who was dragged from her residence at 16 and despatched to a brothel in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, instructed the Related Press information company in March: “Each South Korea and Japan maintain ready for us to die, however I’ll struggle till the very finish.” She instructed the company that her marketing campaign for intervention from the UN’s Worldwide Court docket of Justice is geared toward pressuring Japan to completely settle for accountability and acknowledge its previous army sexual slavery as conflict crimes.

Given the sturdy South Korean sentiment, Choi Eunmi, analysis fellow on the Asan Institute for Coverage Research, stated it’s needed for the federal government in Seoul to generate higher social consensus on the significance of in search of higher ties with Japan.

“It’s their process to influence and let peculiar Korean folks know why Japan is essential globally and why the Korea-Japan relations mustn’t solely be targeted on the previous issues,” she stated. On the identical time, Japan additionally must do way more, she stated. “Japan can’t simply wait and see what the Korean aspect says,” she stated, urging Tokyo to increase an “olive department” to assist flip public sentiment in South Korea, together with by lifting among the sanctions and restrictions on commerce and tourism between the 2 international locations.

Sneider of Stanford additionally stated he wished the “Japanese felt a higher sense of urgency about bettering relations with Korea”. He stated “actual clear stress” from the US was important to get Japan to reciprocate the Korean need to enhance relations.

“As a result of in Tokyo, they don’t care practically as a lot about what Koreans suppose as they do about what People suppose. That may be a actuality,” he stated.

Hamas executes five Palestinians in Gaza, two for Israel ties | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Two males had been executed for ‘collaboration with Israel’ whereas three others had been convicted of homicide.

The Hamas motion governing the Gaza Strip says it has executed 5 Palestinians, together with two for “collaboration” with Israel.

The executions on Sunday had been the primary carried out within the coastal enclave for greater than 5 years.

“On Sunday morning, the dying sentence was carried out towards two condemned for collaboration with the occupation [Israel] and three others in legal circumstances,” Hamas mentioned in an announcement.

The assertion went on to say the defendants had beforehand been given “their full rights to defend themselves”.

Hamas’ inside ministry offered the initials and years of start of the 5 executed Palestinians, however didn’t give their full names.

The 2 executed for collaboration with Israel had been two males born in 1978 and 1968, it mentioned.

The older of the 2 was a resident of Khan Yunis within the south of the blockaded Gaza Strip. He was convicted of supplying Israel in 1991 with “data on males of the resistance, their residence … and the placement of rocket launchpads”, Hamas mentioned.

The second was condemned for supplying Israel in 2001 with intelligence “that led to the focusing on and martyrdom of residents” by Israeli forces, the assertion added.

The three others executed had been convicted of homicide, it mentioned.

First executions in years

Hamas has sentenced quite a few individuals to dying in recent times for “collaboration” with Israel, however the executions on Sunday had been the primary carried out since Could 2017.

Three Palestinians – Ashraf Abu Leila, Hisham al-Aloul, and Abdallah al-Nashar – had been executed then for his or her involvement in assassinating a Hamas army chief.

The boys had been publicly executed with lots of of individuals allowed to look at the sentences being carried out.

They’d been arrested simply weeks earlier for the killing of Mazen Faqha, who was allegedly shot useless on behalf of Israel.

Whereas Hamas retains the dying penalty on the statute books, Palestinian officers within the occupied West Financial institution haven’t carried any out in recent times.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, seated within the West Financial institution metropolis of Ramallah, has signed as much as the United Nations’ treaty opposing the dying penalty.

Abbas’s Fatah motion and Hamas have been divided since preventing broke out between them in 2007.

The Palestinian Authority operates within the West Financial institution, dwelling to just about three million Palestinians who reside alongside 475,000 Israeli settlers.

Hamas, in the meantime, guidelines over 2.3 million Palestinians residing underneath a crippling Israeli-led blockade for 15 years.

Palestinian protesters
Palestinian protesters react throughout an indication by the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza Metropolis, to denounce the Israeli siege of the Palestinian Strip [File: Said Khatib/AFP]

France’s Macron seeks ties with Algeria beyond ‘painful’ history | News

Ties with Algiers have turn into extra essential for Europe due to rising demand for fuel amid the warfare in Ukraine.

President Emmanuel Macron mentioned France and Algeria ought to transfer past their “painful” shared historical past and look to the longer term as he started a three-day go to to the previous colony.

“We’ve a posh, painful widespread previous, and it has at occasions prevented us from wanting on the future,” Macron mentioned after assembly Algerian counterpart President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Thursday.

Talking at a press convention, Tebboune responded by saying the go to yielded “encouraging outcomes” and he hoped it could “open up new views for partnership and cooperation with France”.

He mentioned they mentioned the best way to carry stability to Libya, the Sahel area, and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

French colonial rule in Algeria and the bitter independence warfare that ended it in 1962 have haunted relations between the 2 nations for many years.

Ties with Algiers have turn into extra essential for Paris due to the warfare in Ukraine rising the demand in Europe for North African fuel, in addition to surging migration throughout the Mediterranean.

European nations want to Algeria — Africa’s largest fuel exporter with direct pipelines to Spain and Italy — to finish their dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

In the meantime, Algiers is searching for to capitalise on larger vitality costs to lock in European funding.

Macron has tried a number of occasions to show the web page with its former colony. In 2017, earlier than his election, he described French actions throughout the 1954-62 warfare that killed tons of of hundreds of Algerians as a “crime in opposition to humanity”.

The declaration gained him reputation in Algeria however was politically controversial in France, which is dwelling to greater than 4 million folks of Algerian origin.

Nonetheless, he provoked a storm in Algeria final 12 months when he dominated out issuing an official apology and urged Algerian nationwide id didn’t exist earlier than French rule.

He additionally appeared to accuse Algeria’s ruling elite — which continues to be dominated by the technology that fought for independence — of rewriting the historical past of the independence battle primarily based on a hatred of France.

Algeria withdrew its ambassador for consultations and closed its airspace to French planes, complicating the French army mission within the Sahel.

Earlier than assembly with Tebboune, Macron visited a monument to Algerians killed within the warfare, inserting a wreath there. He mentioned the 2 governments would set up a joint committee of historians to review archives of the colonial period.

French historians say half one million civilians and combatants died throughout Algeria’s bloody warfare for independence, 400,000 of them Algerian. The Algerian authorities say 1.5 million have been killed.

Tebboune’s workplace mentioned in October greater than 5.6 million Algerians have been killed throughout the colonial interval.

Algerian human rights teams have urged Macron to not overlook abuses by the federal government that got here to energy after longtime chief Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down in 2019.

France’s Macron in Algeria: Frosty ties, bitter history | Explainer News

Macron’s go to is an try to fix relations between France and Algeria, which hit a brand new low within the final 12 months.

French President Emmanuel Macron is about to reach in Algiers for an official state go to, in what many see as a thawing in frosty relations between Algeria and the previous colonial energy.

The three-day go to – Macron’s second to Algeria as head of state – goals to deepen the bilateral relationship between the 2 nations, an announcement from France’s presidency mentioned.

The assertion added that the go to would “reinforce Franco-Algerian cooperation within the face of regional challenges and to proceed the work of addressing the previous”.

However as a way to transfer ahead, France should reckon with its brutal colonial previous and occupation of Algeria, mentioned Youcef Bouandel, a professor of political sciences at Qatar College.

“France’s official perspective is ‘there shall be no repentance, there shall be no apologies’”, Bouandel informed Al Jazeera. “Certainly, Emmanuel Macron believes that ‘repentance is vainness’. The query that begs itself is why has France taken this perspective.”

Why have relations been strained between the 2 nations?

  • In October 2021, ties between Algeria and France nosedived after Macron was reported to have questioned whether or not Algeria had existed as a nation earlier than French colonialism. He additionally decried Algiers’ “political-military system” of rewriting historical past in a discourse of “hatred in direction of France”.
  • In response to French day by day Le Monde, the feedback had been made throughout a gathering with Macron and French-Algerian descendants of the Harkis, Algerians who fought on the French aspect throughout Algeria’s battle of independence.
  • The feedback additionally adopted a French choice to sharply cut back the variety of visas it grants to residents of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

How did Algeria react to Macron’s feedback?

  • Algeria accused France of “genocide” and recalled its ambassador from Paris in October 2021.
  • The return of the Algerian ambassador to France is conditional on “whole respect for the Algerian state,” Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune mentioned on the time.
  • The Algerian authorities additionally banned French army planes from its airspace.
  • An announcement from the Algerian presidency accused France of genocide, and expressed its “categorical rejection of the inadmissible interference in its inner affairs”.

What’s on Macron’s agenda in Algeria?

  • In response to Bouandel, one of many foremost points to be mentioned is vitality, given the persevering with battle in Ukraine and the necessity for France and Europe to search for various sources of gasoline to deal with the approaching winter.
  • “Macron can even be trying on the Algerian marketplace for French items and to take care of its place as an necessary financial accomplice, particularly given the rising position and affect of China,” Bouandel added.
  • French limits on visas for Algerians are additionally more likely to be on the agenda.

What’s the historical past of France’s colonisation of Algeria?

  • France occupied Algeria for 132 years, earlier than the latter received independence in March 1962 after a fierce and bloody battle lasting greater than seven years.
  • Algerian authorities say 1.5 million folks had been killed within the battle, whereas many French historians put the variety of these killed at half one million. The vast majority of these killed had been Algerian.
  • On July 5 of the identical 12 months, Algeria formally broke free from colonial rule after 99.72 p.c of voters backed independence in a referendum.
  • France has dominated out any type of apology for the colonial interval, however mentioned Macron would as an alternative participate in “symbolic acts” geared toward selling reconciliation.

What’s the legacy of French colonial rule over Algeria?

  • The 2 nations have a sophisticated relationship, with Algeria typically accusing France of meddling with its inner affairs.
  • Macron, the primary French president born after the colonial interval, acknowledged in 2018 that France had instigated a system that facilitated torture in the course of the Algerian battle.
  • “Recognition of the violence of colonisation is a extremely divisive difficulty in France, notably among the many helps of the far-right who, historically, have been fervent defenders of France’s colonial previous,” Bouandel mentioned. “Consequently, as an alternative of apologising for its brutal colonial previous,  France took some steps to glorify its colonial previous.”
  • On November 29, 2005, the French Nationwide Meeting handed a regulation that glorified French colonialism and made it obligatory for lecturers to current a beneficial account of France’s brutal colonial previous,” Bouandel added.
  • French Algerians are estimated to be the biggest minority in France, however many complain of discrimination.

Russia and China open cross-border bridge as ties deepen | International Trade News

Moscow and Beijing hope new bridge linking Russian metropolis of Blagoveshchensk to Chinese language metropolis of Heihe will additional enhance commerce as Ukraine conflict hits provide stream.

Russia and China have opened a brand new cross-border bridge within the Far East that they hope will additional strengthen commerce as Moscow reels from sweeping Western sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine.

The bridge linking the Russian metropolis of Blagoveshchensk to the Chinese language metropolis of Heihe throughout the Amur River – identified in China because the Heilongjiang – is about 1km lengthy and price 19 billion roubles ($342m), the RIA information company reported on Friday.

Amid a fireworks show, freight vehicles from each ends crossed the two-lane bridge festooned with flags within the colors of each international locations, video footage of the opening confirmed.

Russian authorities stated the bridge would deliver Moscow and Beijing nearer collectively by boosting commerce after they introduced a “no limits” partnership in February, shortly earlier than President Vladimir Putin despatched his forces into Ukraine.

“In at this time’s divided world, the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe bridge between Russia and China carries a particular symbolic which means,” stated Yuri Trutnev, the Kremlin consultant within the Russian Far East.

China needs to deepen sensible cooperation with Russia in all areas, Chinese language Vice Premier Hu Chunhua stated on the opening.

Russia’s Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev stated the bridge would assist enhance bilateral annual commerce to a couple of million tonnes of products.

Slicing journey time

The bridge had been underneath development since 2016 and was accomplished in Might 2020, however its opening was delayed by cross-border COVID-19 restrictions, stated BTS-MOST, the agency constructing the bridge on the Russian aspect.

BTS-MOST stated freight site visitors on the bridge would shorten the journey distance of Chinese language items to western Russia by 1,500km (930 miles).

Automobiles crossing the bridge should pay a toll of 8,700 roubles ($150), a value that’s anticipated to drop as toll charges start to offset the price of development.

Russia stated in April it anticipated commodity flows with China to develop and commerce with Beijing to succeed in $200bn by 2024.

China is a serious purchaser of Russian pure assets and agricultural merchandise.

China has declined to sentence Russia’s actions in Ukraine and has criticised the Western sanctions on Moscow.