ISSN : 0023-3900
Herein I analyze how the French media understand and analyze the comfort women issue. To this end, I review related articles from four major French dailies and three French weekly magazines published between 1990 and 2019. The French press, whether on the right or left, recognize that the Korean comfort women victims, and the civil movements supporting those victims, have contributed to strengthening women’s human rights at the global level. They argue that Japan, where historical revisionism prevails, has not faced the truth on this issue. The French leftist press further criticizes the United States for failing to condemn properly Japan’s war crimes at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal under the pretext of the Cold War. One French journalist predicted that the future of a democratic and pacifist Japan depended on the sincere resolution of the comfort women issue. The public testimony of comfort women in the early 1990s may be likened to the tiny flapping of a butterfly’s wings. The nearly thirty years since this testimony has seen a great butterfly effect, including criticism of the politicization of history in order to conceal or beautify past mistakes, the reinforcement of human rights, and the prospect of advancing democracy.