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Japan and South Korea Strike Comfort Women Deal

By Maiya Gessling The North American Post

Shortly before the New Year, on Dec. 28, Japan and South Korea came to an historic agreement over the infamous “comfort women” issue that has been plaguing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Announced by the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers as a “final and irreversible resolution,” the deal included an apology from Japan and one billion yen (about $8.3 million) that will go towards providing care for
the surviving comfort women. The money will come directly from Tokyo, rather than from private donations as occurred in 1993. In return, Korea has promised to criticize the Japanese government over the issue again and it is possible that the comfort women statue facing the Japanese Embassy in Seoul will be removed.

The deal was generally supported in Japan and the United States, where politicians are concerned with the strength of their Asian allies in the face of China and North Korea. However, activists and the comfort women themselves in South Korea have been highly critical of the agreement, calling it “rash,” “invalid” and “opaque”. Criticism stems largely from the fact that the survivors were not part of the negotiation process, as well as from opposition to the removal of the memorial statue.

The Wall Street Journal even cited that critics may try to renegotiate the
deal in 2017 when a new president will be elected in South Korea; but current South Korean President Park Geun-hye is doing her best to garner support for the deal, saying in a statement that it would be “extremely difficult” to satisfy everyone but that “if critics can’t accept the agreement and try to take the issue back to the beginning…there is little we can do further to help the survivors while they are alive.”

Final New Year’s Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market

Present at its current location for 80 years, Tsukiji market has become an world-renowned Tokyo landmark, most notably for it’s New Year’s and daily tuna auctions.

2016’s New Year’s Day bluefin tuna was sold to sushi restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura, who bid 14 million yen ($118,000) on a 440-pound fish.

Change is coming, however, and this tradition will have to move itself a few miles south in November, to a more out-of-the-way spot still in Tokyo Bay. City government plans, in the works for 20 years, show a 57-acre market on the Sumida River’s outlet into the bay with a waterfront park, shopping plaza and ferry passenger terminal. There is some concern over pollution at the new site.