Wednesday demonstration (Korean: 수요 집회), officially named Wednesday Demonstration demanding Japan to redress the Comfort Women problems (Korean: 일본군 위안부 문제 해결을 위한 정기 수요시위), is a weekly protest in Korea which aims at obtaining justice from the Japanese government regarding the large scale sexual slavery system established under Imperial Japan rule during World War II (its victims are commonly known under the euphemism "comfort women"). The weekly protest is held in the presence of surviving comfort women on every Wednesday at noon in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul.
The weekly protest is led by The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, commonly referred to as the Korean Council. The first demonstration was held on January 8, 1992, for the visit of then Prime Minister of Japan Kiichi Miyazawa, and the 1,000th on December 14, 2011. The only Wednesday protest the Korean Council and former comfort women have missed since 1992 was during the Kobe earthquake in Japan in 1995. The Wednesday demonstration was listed in March 2002 in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest rally on a single theme. Such long years of weekly protests are still on going as they believe the Japanese government has not given any sincere official apology to these victims. In 2007, current Prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, mentioned how there was no "forceful" action of the Japanese government in gathering the women, which is still his stance regarding this issue until the present. In December 2015, there was a deal signed by the government of President Park Geun -hye, incumbent Moon Jae-in's predecessor, and Prime minister Abe Shinzo regarding the comfort women issue, but the protest still went on as the deal was regarded as a lacking deal without the consent of the victims and forced by the Park's government's favor. Such stance has been supported by the new foreign minister of South Korea, Kang Kyung-wha who pinpointed how the two countries are at odds regarding the deal struck in 2015. However, the deal was officially cancelled by the government of President Moon Jae-in in November 2018.
Korean law prohibits demonstrations around foreign embassies. It is believed that the local government has intentionally left it alone.
According to the Korean Council, the "Wednesday Demonstrations have turned into a place for solidarity between citizens and the victims, a living site for history education, a platform for peace and women's human rights, bringing people together in solidarity beyond gender, age, borders, and ideologies." The Korean Council states that they will keep protesting until Korea has considered the rights and dignity fully restored to the victims.
- Acknowledge the war crime.
- Reveal the truth in its entirety about the crimes of military sexual slavery.
- Make an official apology by the Japanese Government.
- Make legal reparations.
- Punish those responsible for the war crime.
- Accurately record the crime in history textbooks.
- Erect a memorial for the victims of military sexual slavery and establish a historical museum.
Also, recently the Korean government claims to have a fair negotiation with the Japanese government with victims take part in. Especially after 2015 settlement that was done by President Park Geun -hye ministry without the victims. On November 21, 2018, however, the Japanese-funded comfort women foundation which was launched in July 2016 to finance the controversial negotiated settlement was shut down by President Moon Jae-in ministry after the 2015 agreement was scrapped.
On August 14, 2018, the first official memorial day of comfort women was marked in South Korea.
The golden bronze statue, "Pyeonghwabi" ("Statue of peace"), was inaugurated for the 1,000th rally on December 14, 2011. The statue of the Korean teenage girl sitting on a chair facing the Japanese Embassy represents all of the Korean girls forced to be comfort women. The bird on her shoulder is symbolic of freedom and peace.
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- "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Former 'Comfort Women' Hold 1,000th Protest at Japanese Embassy". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
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- Choe Sang-Hun (November 21, 2018). "South Korea Signals End to 'Final' Deal With Japan Over Wartime Sex Slaves". New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press (November 21, 2018). "South Korea Shuts Japanese-Funded 'Comfort Women' Foundation". Time. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- CNN, James Griffiths,. "South Korea's new president questions Japan 'comfort women' deal". CNN. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
- "Former 'comfort women' hold 1,000th weekly protest". Retrieved 24 November 2015.