Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO
2019 Korean PAX report
I visited South Korea from April 30 to May 5, 2019 as group leader of the Korean PAX tour, the Peace Ambassador Exchange. I would like to share a few thoughts regarding this Korean PAX.
We visited the House of Sharing for victims of Japanese military sexual slavery on May 2. There we met one of the grandmothers, 이옥선 Ii Ukseon, and I apologized to her as a Japanese person. However, she said that she wanted an apology from the Japanese government, not from me. She said that she didn’t expect an apology from the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. Hearing that for her my apology meant nothing, I was shocked. At the political level between two countries, there are so many issues going on that need to be resolved. The grandmothers have seven demands, the Japanese staff of the House of Sharing, Mr. Tsukasa Yajima told us. The Japanese government has to answer to these seven demands, which the present government chooses to ignore. Is there anything left, then, that we Japanese citizens can do for these victims of sex slavery?
On May 2, after Ms. Masue Matsumoto shared her experience of the A-bombing, there was a question to her. ‘Why don’t the Japanese ask for an apology from the U.S.?’ She explained about a characteristic attitude of Japanese people to experiences in the past. The Japanese tend to forget what happened, as one releases incidents in the stream of memory. It is not only her, but many hibakusha don’t especially want an apology from the U.S. Instead they say that they don’t want anyone to experience what they did. I know that the Japanese have to apologize and seek to be forgiven because of the war. The Korean grandmothers need an apology from the Japanese government. However, I hope that as Japanese people continue to visit the victims of the sex slavery with their apologies and a heart of love, these may heal them and they will someday accept our apologies. I believe that this is one of the things that Japanese citizen could do about the past.
In the end, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Peace Building Community for their warm welcome and commitment to this program dedicated to peace between our countries. I hope that Korean PAX will continue to contribute to the peace of this region.
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