Korea marked its 74th anniversary of its liberation from Japan's colonial rule on Thursday.
This year's National Liberation Day came amid perhaps the worst Seoul-Tokyo relations we have seen in recent memory and at the heart of the frictions, lie decades-old historical issues.
One of the unresolved and contentious topics between the two countries is Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.
Korean women were not the only victims, let me clarify. Japan also enslaved women from other countries, including China, Vietnam and the Philippines. As such, the term "comfort women" comprise victims from various countries.
And today, I have a very special guest, who was at the forefront of finding justice for these victims. and who authored a U.S. resolution that called for Japan's official acknowledgement and apology for its wartime atrocities.
He is none other than former U.S. Congressman and current member of the "Comfort Women Day" organizing committee, Michael Honda.
1. First of all, thank you for making time for our viewers despite your busy schedule. I hear it's not your first visit to Korea, but I'm sure this year's visit is all the more significant as the world is zooming in on the Korea-Japan tensions that were triggered by bilateral historical issues. Tell us more about your trip.
2. You’ve met the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery in person this year as well. What kind of discussions did you have with them?
3. For many years, as a U.S. congressman, you were at the forefront of raising awareness of the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery. You also led the passage of U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 121 which urged Japan to acknowledge and apologize for the use of ‘Comfort Women’. Could you elaborate on this resolution?
4. Passing of the resolution must have not been easy. I’m sure Japan flexed its muscles against it, lobbying and putting pressure so it would not be passed. Can you tell us about the biggest challenges or difficulties you had to face during the process?
5. I hear the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also strongly supported the resolution. What do you think was the strongest momentum that led to the passage of the resolution?
6. A number of ‘Comfort Women’, including Lee Yong-soo and the late Kim Koon-ja , testified at a hearing in Washington in 2007. What was the reaction from the U.S. parliament?
7. Your efforts did not stop there. You are still making sure that the victims' voices are heard, and you continue to urge Japan for a sincere apology. You have also mentioned that the U.S. is also responsible in resolving the ‘Comfort Women’ issue. How so?
8. It’s no secret that Japan continues to slap trade restrictions against South Korea in retaliation to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year on Japan’s wartime forced labor. How do you see Japan’s latest moves?
9. What would you say is the key to resolving this decades-old issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery and other unresolved historical issues?