The 2015 'Final and Irreversible' South Korea – Japan Comfort Women Agreement: The structural denial of sexual slavery and its implications in terms of continued victimization

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


In 2015, South-Korea and Japan came to a ‘final and irreversible’ agreement concerning the so called ‘comfort women’ who were in fact victims of a system of sexual slavery implemented by the Japanese authorities during the Second World War. The agreement establishes a victim-fund to which Japan made a substantial donation and Japanese officials have also offered apologies. One could argue that these measures settle the issue, because there finally appears to be atonement for the victims. This contribution, however, argues that the agreement signals the next stage in a complex process of denial through which the Japanese authorities have structurally denied the victimhood of the women. This conclusion is based on an analysis of the historical process of denial and a reflection on its implications, which reveals interesting insights concerning how denial operates in the context of this particular case. The analysis shows that the denial by the Japanese authorities takes different forms and performs several functions throughout the historical process. Moreover, the victims themselves greatly influence the denial dynamic. Finally, the analysis reveals the detrimental impact that denial has on victims and how it leads to a state of continued victimization of the women, despite the recent agreement.
Period15 Sept 2017
Event titleAnnual Conference of the European Society of Criminology: Challenging ‘Crime’ and ‘Crime Control’ in Contemporary Europe
Event typeConference
Conference number17
LocationCardiff, United KingdomShow on map