Connect with us

International

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

Pressure is growing on Japan and South Korea to resolve their historical feuds, with Seoul’s top court set to examine a case that could see the assets of some Japanese firms sold off to compensate Korean wartime labourers.

The case is one of dozens that South Koreans have lodged against Japan, which colonised the Korean peninsula from 1910 – 1945, seeking reparations for forced labour and sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The South Korean Supreme Court, in a series of landmark rulings in 2018, has already ordered Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel to compensate some 14 former workers for their brutal treatment and unpaid labour.

Many of them are now in their 90s, and several have died since the rulings without seeing any compensation.

“I cannot pass away before receiving an apology from Japan,” one of the former labourers, Yang Geum-deok, wrote in a recent letter to the South Korean government. The 93 year old, who was sent to work at a Mitsubishi aircraft factory in 1944, when she was 14, said the Japanese company “needs to apologise and turn over the money”.

But both Mitsubishi Heavy and Nippon Steel have refused to comply with the rulings, with the Japanese government insisting the issue has been settled in past bilateral agreements.

Lee Choon-shik, a victim of wartime forced labour during the Japanese colonial period, holds a banner that reads ‘Apologise for forced labour and fulfil the compensation’ during 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.
Students hold portraits of deceased former South Korean sex slaves during an anti-Japan rally in Seoul, South Korea, on August 15, 2018 [File: Kim Hong-Ji/ Reuters]

The South Korean Supreme Court is now set to deliberate on a lower court ruling that ordered the liquidation of some of Mitusbishi Heavy Industries’ assets, and experts are urging Seoul and Tokyo to reach a resolution before a verdict is announced.

They say the long-running feuds could threaten security cooperation between the two neighbours at a time when North Korea has warned of preemptive nuclear strikes and launched an unprecedented number of missiles and weapons tests. The stakes are high for the United States, too. For Washington, which has military bases and troops in both countries, the feuds undermine its efforts to build an Indo-Pacific alliance to counter China’s growing global influence.

Japan and South Korea have “got to avert the impending Sword of Damocles,” said Daniel Sneider, lecturer in East Asian Studies at Stanford University in the US. “If the court moves ahead to seize the assets of Japanese companies, then everything breaks down,” he said, with potentially “tragic” consequences for global trade, as well as the US’s ability to defend its two allies in the event of a North Korean attack.

As calls grow for a settlement, here’s a look at the history behind the bitter feuds and why they seem so intractable.

‘Comfort women’

Japan and Korea share a long history of rivalry and war. The Japanese have repeatedly tried to invade the Korean peninsula, and succeeded in annexing and colonising it in 1910. During World War II, Japanese authorities forced tens of thousands of Koreans to work in factories and mines and sent women and girls into military brothels. A United Nations expert, in a 1996 report, said some 200,000 Korean “comfort women” were forced into a system of “military sexual slavery” and called the abuses “crimes against humanity”.

After Japan’s rule of Korea ended in 1945, the peninsula was split along the 38th parallel, with rival governments taking power in Pyongyang and Seoul. The US, which backed the government in Seoul, lobbied it for better relations with Tokyo. And after 14 years of secretive negotiations, South Korea and Japan in 1965 signed a treaty normalising relations. Under that deal, Japan agreed to provide South Korea with $500m in grants and loans and any issues concerning property, rights and interests of the two countries and their peoples were considered to “have been settled completely and finally”.

But the agreement set off mass protests in South Korea, with the opposition and student demonstrators accusing then-President Park Chung-hee of “selling away the country” for a “paltry sum”. The government imposed martial law to quash the nationwide demonstrations and went on to use the Japanese funds to kick-start South Korea’s development, including by building highways and a steel factory.

Grievances over the issue of forced labour and sexual slavery continued to fester, however.

In the early 90s, South Korean victims of forced labour, including Yang Geum-deok, filed for compensation in Japanese courts while survivors of the military brothels went public with accounts of their abuses. The Japanese courts threw out the Korean forced labour petitions, but in 1993, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yohei Kono, publicly offered “sincere apologies and remorse” for the military’s involvement in the forced recruitment of Korean women for sex.

Two years later, Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Marayama acknowledged the suffering caused by Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression” and made a “profound apology to all those who, as wartime comfort women, suffered emotional and physical wounds that can never be closed”. He also established a fund from private contributions to compensate victims in South Korea and other Asian countries.

Japan’s apologies

But many in South Korea did not consider Japan’s remorse as sincere, and tensions flared again when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was first elected in 2006, claimed there was no evidence to suggest Japan coerced Korean women into sexual slavery. During Abe’s second stint as prime minister, his government said the women should not be called “sex slaves” and said figures such as 200,000 comfort women lacked “concrete evidence”.

The claims angered South Koreans, but still, amid concerns over North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal, the government of then-President Park Geun-hye – the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee – signed a new deal with Tokyo, agreeing to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the “comfort women” issue in return for a renewed apology and a 1 billion yen (now $6.9m) fund to help the victims. At the time, 46 of the 239 women who had registered with the South Korean government were still alive in South Korea, and 34 of them received compensation.

Others condemned the deal, however, saying it had ignored their demands that Japan take legal responsibility for the atrocities and provide official reparations.

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

It was that same year that the South Korean Supreme Court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel to compensate Korean wartime labourers.

Japan responded furiously, calling the rulings “totally unacceptable” and removing South Korea’s favoured trade partner status and imposing export controls on chemicals vital to the Korean semiconductor industry. It also warned of “serious” ramifications should the Japanese companies’ assets be seized. Moon’s government, meanwhile, also downgraded Japan’s trade status and nearly scrapped a military intelligence pact, while South Koreans launched a boycott of Japanese goods, including the beer brand, Asahi, and the clothing company, Uniqlo.

The crisis was the worst since the two countries normalised ties.

The recent 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 about the need for the two nations to work together. Yoon promised to promote “friendly relations” while Kishida said ties between the two countries are “indispensable” at a time when the world was “confronted with epoch-making changes”.

‘Ball is in Korea’s court’

But despite the warm rhetoric, attempts to arrange a meeting between the two leaders have yet to bear fruit. Yoon invited Kishida to his inauguration, but the Japanese foreign minister attended. Similarly, an attempt at arranging a meeting during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Asia in May and a NATO meeting in June also failed.

“Japanese politicians think the ball is in Korea’s court and want to see how Yoon will handle the forced labour issue,” said Jeffrey Kingston, professor of history and Asian studies at the Temple University in Japan.

“The prevailing view is scepticism about overcoming history controversies and a feeling that Korea plays the history card to badger and humiliate Japan for colonial-era misdeeds. This feeds into a sanctimonious nationalism and condescending views towards Korea among Japanese conservatives. Basically, the costs of bad relation­s with Korea are not seen to be very high and not worth making concessions,” he said.

In a bid to find a way forward, Yoon in June convened a group of victims, experts and officials to advise the government on the forced labour issue. The group has discussed several solutions, according to local media reports, including establishing a joint fund managed by two governments using voluntary contributions from South Korean and Japanese companies to compensate the forced labour victims.

But several victims are against the idea.

“If it were about the money, I would have given up by now,” Yang Geum-deok wrote in her letter, stressing that she would “never accept” the money if “other people give it to me”.

Victims of sexual slavery, meanwhile, are appealing for a United Nations judgement on the issue.

Lee Yong-soo, who was dragged from her home at 16 and sent to a brothel in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, told the Associated Press news agency in March: “Both South Korea and Japan keep waiting for us to die, but I will fight until the very end.” She told the agency that her campaign for intervention from the UN’s International Court of Justice is aimed at pressuring Japan to fully accept responsibility and acknowledge its past military sexual slavery as war crimes.

Given the strong South Korean sentiment, Choi Eunmi, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said it is necessary for the government in Seoul to generate greater social consensus on the importance of seeking better ties with Japan.

“It’s their task to persuade and let ordinary Korean people know why Japan is important globally and why the Korea-Japan relations should not only be focused on the past problems,” she said. At the same time, Japan also needs to do much more, she said. “Japan can’t just wait and see what the Korean side says,” she said, urging Tokyo to extend an “olive branch” to help turn public sentiment in South Korea, including by lifting some of the sanctions and restrictions on trade and tourism between the two countries.

Sneider of Stanford also said he wished the “Japanese felt a greater sense of urgency about improving relations with Korea”. He said “real clear pressure” from the US was essential to get Japan to reciprocate the Korean desire to improve relations.

“Because in Tokyo, they don’t care nearly as much about what Koreans think as they do about what Americans think. That is a reality,” he said.

Source link

International

US envoy ‘will not be admitted’ to Nicaragua, vice president says | Elections News

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo says decision due to new US ambassador’s ‘interfering’ attitude.

Nicaragua will not allow the new United States ambassador to enter the country due to his “interfering” attitude, Vice President Rosario Murillo has reiterated, amid months of escalating tensions between the two nations.

The US envoy, Hugo Rodriguez, “will not under any circumstances be admitted into our Nicaragua”, said Murillo, who is also the wife of President Daniel Ortega.

“Let that be clear to the imperialists,” she said on Friday, reading a statement from the foreign office on state media, as reported by the AFP news agency.

The US Senate confirmed Rodriguez’s nomination to the ambassador post on Thursday, despite Nicaragua saying in July that it would reject it.

The diplomatic fight comes as the Biden administration has imposed a slew of sanctions, including US visa restrictions, on Nicaraguan state officials and their relatives over a crackdown on opposition politicians and human rights activists in the Central American nation.

Ortega has overseen a sweeping arrest campaign that targeted opposition leaders and presidential hopefuls in the lead-up to a November 2021 vote that saw the longtime leader re-elected to a fourth consecutive term as president.

But Washington and its allies, including the European Union, slammed the vote as a “farce”. Human rights organisations also denounced the crackdown, which has seen dozens of people arrested and sentenced to often lengthy prison terms.

Other opposition figures have fled the country, often to neighbouring Costa Rica.

Ortega has said his government’s actions are lawful, accusing the opposition figures of not being real candidates, but rather “criminals” and “terrorists” who posed a danger to the country.

In July, Nicaragua withdrew its approval of Rodriguez’s ambassador posting in the country after Rodriguez criticised the Ortega government.

Rodriguez, a former senior adviser in the US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told a US Senate hearing that he would “support using all economic and diplomatic tools to bring about a change in direction in Nicaragua”.

He also described Nicaragua as a “pariah state in the region” and branded Ortega’s government a “dictatorship”.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada responded that the government, “in use of its powers and in exercise of its national sovereignty, immediately withdraws the approval granted to the candidate Hugo Rodriguez”.

On Friday, Nicaragua’s former ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Arturo McFields, slammed the government’s decision to deny entry to Rodriguez, saying the US-Nicaraguan relationship had reached “one of its worst crises” in over a decade.

McFields resigned from his post in March, accusing Ortega’s administration of rights abuses.

Earlier this week, the Reuters news agency reported that Nicaragua had asked the European Union’s ambassador to leave the country, according to three diplomatic sources.

European Union Ambassador Bettina Muscheidt was summoned to the foreign ministry, where she was declared “non grata” and notified that she should leave Nicaragua, one of the diplomatic sources said.



Source link

Continue Reading

International

American consumers spent more in August, as prices rose | Inflation News

Consumers spent a bit more in August than the previous month, a sign the economy is holding up even as inflation lifts prices for food, rent, and other essentials.

Americans boosted their spending at stores and for services, such as haircuts, by 0.4 percent in August, after it fell 0.2 percent in July, the Department of Commerce said Friday. Yet much of that increase reflected higher prices, with an inflation gauge closely monitored by the Federal Reserve rising 0.3 percent in August, the government’s report showed.

The figures suggested that the economy is showing some resilience despite sharply rising interest rates, violent swings in the stock market, and high inflation.

Still, there were signs that rising prices are weighing on shoppers. Consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, is growing at a weaker pace. It increased at an annual rate of 2 percent in the April-June quarter. Yet July and August data indicate that spending growth is on track to slow to an annual rate of just 0.5 percent in the July-September quarter, economists said.

The economy is expected to grow in the third quarter, after shrinking in the first six months of this year. But many economists lowered their forecasts after the spending report and now expect growth will be just 1 percent or so at an annual rate.

Americans are also saving less in order to keep up with higher prices. The US saving rate was just 3.5 percent in August, far below pre-pandemic levels of about 8 percent, Friday’s report said.

There have been other signs of consumer weakness recently, with used car seller Carmax reporting sharply lower sales in the three months ending in August. The company attributed the decline to “affordability challenges” for consumers amid high inflation and rising interest rates.

Rising prices

Compared with a year ago, prices jumped 6.2 percent, down from a 6.4 percent annual gain in July but not far from June’s four-decade high of 7 percent. The figure is lower than the more widely-known consumer price index, released earlier this month, which reported an 8.3 percent price gain in August from a year earlier.

The two indexes differ for several reasons. For example, the consumer price index puts much greater weight on rents and housing costs, which have been rising steadily, than the measure released Friday, known as the price index for personal consumption expenditures.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.6 percent, much faster than July’s flat reading. They increased 4.9 percent from a year earlier, up from July’s figure of 4.6 percent.

Those figures were higher than expected, and may make the Federal Reserve more likely to lift its benchmark interest rate by another hefty 0.75 percentage point at its next meeting in November. If so, that would be the fourth such rise in a row.

The inflation figures in Friday’s report echoed those released earlier this month, with core prices rising more quickly than headline inflation. Falling petrol prices have reduced overall inflation, while stubbornly high costs for housing, cars, and services such as healthcare and haircuts have pushed core prices higher.

Adjusted for inflation, consumer spending ticked up 0.1 percent last month, after falling slightly in July.

While they are spending more, Americans are saving less in order to keep up with higher prices [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Friday’s report also showed that personal income rose 0.3 percent in August for the second month in a row. Adjusted for price increases, disposable income — what is leftover after taxes — ticked up 0.1 percent, after a hefty 0.5 percent gain in July.

But over a longer timeframe, incomes are trailing inflation. In the April-June quarter, inflation-adjusted disposable income fell 1.5 percent at an annual rate.

Fed action

The Federal Reserve is seeking to wrestle inflation under control with its most rapid series of interest rate rises in four decades. It has pushed its benchmark short-term rate to a range of 3 percent to 3.25 percent, the highest since early 2008, up from nearly zero in March.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other officials have repeatedly underscored the Fed’s determination to bring prices down, even if their rate increases resulted in layoffs and a higher unemployment rate.

The Fed intended its interest rate increases to slow borrowing and spending, which should in turn reduce inflation pressures in the economy.

Inflation has spiked globally, contributing to economic and financial turmoil in the United Kingdom, Europe, and a slew of developing countries, from Turkey to Argentina.

Also Friday, the 19 countries that use the euro currency reported that inflation spiked 10 percent from a year earlier, as prices for natural gas and electricity soared. European countries are struggling with an energy crunch in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Russia has reduced its supplies of natural gas to the European Union.

Source link

Continue Reading

International

Burkina Faso’s military leader Damiba deposed, army captain says | Politics News

BREAKING,

Burkina Faso’s military government dissolved and constitution suspended, army Captain Ibrahim Traore says.

Burkina Faso army Captain Ibrahim Traore has deposed military leader Paul-Henri Damiba and dissolved the government and suspended the constitution and transitional charter, he said in a statement read on national television.

Traore said on Friday evening that a group of officers had decided to remove Damiba due to his inability to deal with a worsening armed uprising in the country. He announced that borders were closed indefinitely and that all political and civil society activities were suspended.

It is the second takeover in eight months for the West African state. Damiba took power in a coup in January that overthrew former President Roch Kabore, also due in part to frustration over the worsening insecurity.

The Burkina Faso government had said earlier on Friday that an “internal crisis” within the army was behind troop deployments in key areas of the capital, adding that negotiations were underway after shots rang out before dawn.

Government spokesman Lionel Bilgo said talks were ongoing “to try to reach a settlement without trouble”.

The state television was cut for several hours, broadcasting just a blank screen with the message “no video signal”.

In Brussels, the EU voiced “concern” at the events unfolding in the Burkina capital.

“A military movement was observed from 04:30 this morning. The situation still remains particularly confused,” spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

Damiba had pledged to restore civilian rule within two years and to defeat armed factions stoking unrest in the country.

Attacks have increased since mid-March, despite the junta’s vow to make security its top priority.

More to follow.

Source link

Continue Reading

Facebook

Latest

In a workshop, IAS officer said, girls have to change their thinking, know what else they said In a workshop, IAS officer said, girls have to change their thinking, know what else they said
National2 days ago

In a workshop, IAS officer said, girls have to change their thinking, know what else they said

In response, a senior woman IAS officer said that there is no end to this demand. She further said, 'You...

Government increased dearness allowance of central employees by 4%, this would benefit 50 lakh employees Government increased dearness allowance of central employees by 4%, this would benefit 50 lakh employees
National2 days ago

Government increased dearness allowance of central employees by 4%, this would benefit 50 lakh employees

Along with this, the work of redevelopment is going on in 199 railway stations of the country. Tenders have been...

Twitter denies Elon Musk's claim of fake accounts, you also know what is the news Twitter denies Elon Musk's claim of fake accounts, you also know what is the news
National2 days ago

Twitter denies Elon Musk’s claim of fake accounts, you also know what is the news

Documents obtained from two data scientists employed by Musk showed they estimated in early July that the number of fake...

Yogi cabinet will have an important meeting, dozens of proposals may be approved Yogi cabinet will have an important meeting, dozens of proposals may be approved
National2 days ago

Yogi cabinet will have an important meeting, dozens of proposals may be approved

It is being told that more than a dozen proposals can be approved in the meeting to be chaired by...

Congress leader raped air hostess in Delhi, know the whole matter Congress leader raped air hostess in Delhi, know the whole matter
National3 days ago

Congress leader raped air hostess in Delhi, know the whole matter

Female air hostess. When the police reached the spot, the woman told that a person named Harijit Yadav, whom she...

People will be able to watch live streaming of Constitution Bench hearing, beginning with Uddhav vs Shinde case People will be able to watch live streaming of Constitution Bench hearing, beginning with Uddhav vs Shinde case
National3 days ago

People will be able to watch live streaming of Constitution Bench hearing, beginning with Uddhav vs Shinde case

It started today with the Uddhav vs Shinde case. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued on behalf of the Uddhav faction.

NIA arrested 170 PFI workers from 8 states of the country, Section 144 implemented in Jamia Nagar NIA arrested 170 PFI workers from 8 states of the country, Section 144 implemented in Jamia Nagar
National3 days ago

NIA arrested 170 PFI workers from 8 states of the country, Section 144 implemented in Jamia Nagar

. So the same, NIA team raided Delhi's Shaheen Bagh on Tuesday morning and detained 30 people. The NIA had...

New disclosure in Ankita murder case, former female employee said, suspicious boys and girls used to come to the resort New disclosure in Ankita murder case, former female employee said, suspicious boys and girls used to come to the resort
National3 days ago

New disclosure in Ankita murder case, former female employee said, suspicious boys and girls used to come to the resort

After leaving the job, Pulkit, Saurabh and Ankit put a lot of pressure on me to return to the job....

Modi urges environment ministers to give maximum boost to circular economy Modi urges environment ministers to give maximum boost to circular economy
National1 week ago

Modi urges environment ministers to give maximum boost to circular economy

It was inaugurated when I became the Prime Minister. A huge amount of money was wasted due to this delay....

BJP MP Janardan Mishra cleans the school toilet with his hands, shared the video on Twitter BJP MP Janardan Mishra cleans the school toilet with his hands, shared the video on Twitter
National1 week ago

BJP MP Janardan Mishra cleans the school toilet with his hands, shared the video on Twitter

When the MP saw that the toilet of the center was very dirty, it was not cleaned, he decided to...

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Zox News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by WordPress.