Japan may be becoming more militaristic, but it’s apparently willing to reconsider some of its more incendiary positions. On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye will meet specifically to discuss the dispute over the “comfort women” whom the Japanese military forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Washington has encouraged both parties to resolve the dispute. The WSJ reports:
South Korea is seeking a new formal apology to the women and a state-funded compensation scheme that acknowledges the government’s role in the coercion. […]Japan maintains that the issue of compensation to these women was settled legally as part of a broader 1965 bilateral agreement that addressed Japan’s wartime wrongdoing on the Korean Peninsula. Tokyo also notes a string of apologies made by former leaders to the women.The standoff had threatened to cast a shadow over U.S. efforts to bring the two sides together during Mr. Obama’s trip to Asia next week, which will also include visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.
The meeting follows a recent apology by the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines for Japanese atrocities committed in that country during the war. It also occurs during the same week as talks between South Korea, Japan, and the United States over the trilateral military alliance. As the President “pivots” to Asia, he’s making sure his allies clear away the obstructions in his path.