Absolutely yes. These facts have been drowned out by a massive disinformation campaign, and the details are more complex than commonly known. In 1965, Japan and S. Korea signed a treaty and a concomitant agreement that normalized relations and settled any and all grievances (Ref. 4): Japan provided S. Korea $800 million in payment and loans as reparations – a tremendous amount in 1965. This arrangement settled, “completely and finally,” all issues and claims between Japan and S. Korea. Specifically, the “Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation” states, in Article II, paragraph 1:
“The High Contracting Parties confirm that the problems concerning property, rights, and interests of the two High Contracting Parties and their peoples (including juridical persons) and the claims between the High Contracting Parties and between their peoples, including those stipulated in Article IV (a) of the Peace Treaty with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, have been settled completely and finally.”
Because this Agreement explicitly states that both nations “confirm that the problems…and interests” of both nations and “their peoples” and “the claims between” both nations and “between their peoples…have been settled completely and finally,” it became the S. Korean government’s responsibility to compensate its citizens who had suffered during the Japanese annexation period.
The treaty details were negotiated between S. Korea and Japan over a period of nearly FIFTEEN YEARS (1951-1965). Thus, it was more than sufficient time to bring up all grievances. The issue of comfort women was never brought up; therefore, there was no mention of comfort women in the treaty, consistent with the S. Korean government’s concerns. If nearly “200,000” Korean girls and young women were kidnapped, abused, and raped (as some claim), it seems unfathomable that the S. Korean government would ignore them in a treaty that was designed to settle all claims “completely and finally.”
Nevertheless, Japan and the Japanese people went above and beyond their international legal obligation to make amends when the comfort women issue heated up as a result of publication of inaccurate stories and fabricated reports arising from Yoshida’s false claims that he abducted Korean women. To diffuse the growing criticism from the S. Korean people and government, the Japanese government made an official apology: on August 4, 1993, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yohei Kono, as part of a more comprehensive apology, stated the following: “The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.” (Ref. 3)
The wording of the comprehensive apology was done in collaboration with S. Koreans to satisfy their wishes in hopes that there would finally be resolution to this issue. To Japan’s chagrin, by using wording to please S. Korea, the apology has led to disastrous consequences, as seen today, where Japan appears to have admitted that the Imperial military high command authorized certain systematic misconduct that it actually had not.
Moreover, even though the 1965 treaty indemnified Japan from claims by S. Korea and the S. Korean people (and the reparations should have been paid to comfort women by the S. Korean government), Japan and the Japanese paid compensation to comfort women survivors to atone for the actions of the then Imperial armed forces. Specifically, going above and beyond their international legal obligation, Japan and its people created what was called the “Asian Women’s Fund” in 1994 and paid millions of dollars in compensation to comfort women of different nationalities. Unfortunately, many former Korean comfort women rejected the compensation because of pressure from an anti-Japanese political organization known as Chong Dae Hyop and the media, thereby giving anti-Japanese groups a means to claim that comfort women were never compensated by Japan. Because the Japanese government had already fulfilled the 1965 treaty and paid the S. Korean government for all claims by its citizens, the Japanese government did not wish to de-legitimize the treaty terms, and instead created the Asian Women’s Fund.