An emphasis on economic assistance and defense cooperation between Japan and the Philippines is likely to continue despite attention being paid to the comfort women issue in the Philippines, Sasakawa USA Fellow Dr. Jeffrey Hornung said January 26 in an on-air interview with Al Jazeera America.
“When it comes to the relationship between Japan and the Philippines, the issue of the comfort women has never become a political obstacle as it has, for instance, in the relationship between Japan and South Korea,” Hornung said.
As Emperor Akihito traveled to the Philippines this week, still-living Filipino women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II increased calls for an official apology and reparations from Japan, like what was offered recently to South Korea.
But if the Philippines were to officially approach Japan with the issue, Hornung said, it would potentially affect the positive political relationship the countries share. In the face of increasing tensions with China in the South China Sea, Hornung said, Japan is a likely partner to the Philippines.
“I don’t think there’s political will in either government to make [comfort women] an issue,” Hornung said.
The video clip featuring Hornung is not available online, but Al Jazeera’s separate piece detailing the issue of comfort women in the Philippines can be viewed here.