Home GRASP GRASP/Korea Japan, South Korea 'comfort women' feud flares amid Pyongyang missile fears

Japan, South Korea 'comfort women' feud flares amid Pyongyang missile fears

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NewsHubTOKYO: A South Korean political vacuum and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s concerns about his conservative political base have rekindled a feud over wartime history, just as tension over North Korea makes cooperation between the U. S. allies as vital as ever.
The row over “comfort women”, as those forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels are known, coincides with uncertainty over Donald Trump’s stance towards North Korea, which has launched a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U. N. sanctions, when he takes over as U. S. president on Jan. 20.
A spat over wartime history that flared in 2012 sent Japan-South Korea ties into a deep chill, delaying a deal on military intelligence sharing and preventing a summit.
A rerun could hamper efforts to upgrade security cooperation but with regional stakes high given North Korea’s threat to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), experts are hopeful fallout can be contained.
“(North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un said in his New Year speech that North Korea will finalise the process of developing an ICBM, so South Korea knows security cooperation with Japan and the United States is pretty important,” said former defence official Narushige Michishita, now a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
“But if they are to upgrade cooperation … the political problem might affect a decision to go ahead, especially on the Korean side,” he said, citing efforts to integrate U.

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