JEAIL > Volume 6(1); 2013 > Regional Focus & Controversies
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2013

A Consideration of the so-called Comfort Women Problem in Japan-Korea Relations: Embracing the Difficulties in the International Legal and Policy Debate

Koji Teraya
University of Tokyo
Building 3 of Faculty of Law, the University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bukyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan 113-0033.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The main purpose of this short essay is to mitigate harsh debate about 'comfort women.' Although it is not expected to be resolved in the foreseeable future, understanding the structure of the problem based on the fact-finding and legal analysis would enable the two peoples to seek a better solution. The author claims that: (1) although some of the historical facts remain unclear, and some people tend to focus too much attention on fact-finding, from the viewpoint of international law, sufficient evidence has been revealed to confirm Japan's responsibility for its conduct in the Second World War, and Japan does not and should not deny the relevant historical facts; (2) Japan was absolved of its responsibility by the 1965 Agreement in a legal sense; and (3) having said that, this case reveals the limits of the positivistic legal approach, and the Asian Women's Fund can be one legitimate way of dealing with this problem.

Keywords: Enforced Sexual Slaves, Crimes against Humanity, Reparation for Individual Victims, The 1965 Korea-Japan Agreement, The San Francisco Peace Treaty

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