Miguel Paraz voted up this answer.
I think the answer lies in our innate humanity of our beings, so I will not restate the obvious here but present my observation and possibly a tangential answer afterwards.
There is a huge discrepancy of expectations between two parties. Japan believes its government has already done enough to compensate, apologize, and even appease those victims of South Korea.COMPENSATION
First, there is the high-level agreement made along with the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea
of 1965. In the agreement is indisputable clause stating that problems in regard to property or claims between Japan and Korea have been settled completely and finally
. Japanese government paid 364 million USD (roughly 2.7 billion USD in today's dollar) in compensation for about a million of Koreans conscripted into labor force and military. Considering that Japan had about 1.4 billion USD as a foreign exchange reserve at the time, that was a significant amount of money, albeit small for 36 years of brutal occupation for more than a million of laborers. More reasonable sum should have been 360 billion USD (1965 estimate), but the military regime in South Korea at the time was more interested in getting quick, but large loans to build basic infrastructures. They ended up using most of the money obtained through this treaty for economic development. The key decision maker behind all of these was the father of the current President Park. The Miracle of Han River doesn't sound like such a miracle now, does it?The agreement itself was not disclosed until 2005 when victims sued the government to disclose the agreement a year earlier, and most of Koreans were unaware of its existence
until the media started to make people more aware of such historical aberration.
The victims themselves virtually received no compensation from the government, and for such reasons the general public virtually ignores the existence of the agreement. The South Korean government (unwittingly, perhaps?) conveniently and yet completely absolved itself the responsibility to make any type of claims on behalf of victims during the Occupation and significantly weakened any potential, future claims of victims.APOLOGY
When President Noh of South Korea was visiting Japan in 1990, the Emperor Hirohito said the following:
Translation: It is said that it was a misery caused by Japan so as I consider the pain that Korean people have experienced I can't help but feel deeply sad.
The dispute is often on the meaning of 痛惜の念 (roughly: a sense of deep sadness), although this was an unprecedented statement which acknowledges the pain inflicted on Korean people by Japan. The expression itself is a very rarely used phrase that common Japanese speaker often find difficult to grasp without knowing the historical use of the word (which occurs in a document dating back to 4th century AD). The Korean media at the time tried to promote that the statement was an official statement of apology, but that view has been quickly turned upside down to a prevailing view that it was a statement more of a ridicule, because it wasn't an admission of any guilt, but a mere diplomatic word play to look like an apology with no content behind it.APPEASEMENT
Since then there have been at least a handful court cases against the Japanese government by non-profit groups representing Korean [forced] laborers who weren't sufficiently compensated during the Occupation. These groups basically practiced the brute force of dragged out grassroot-level campaign with help of many sympathetic Japanese nationals. Many of these groups turned quiet or disappeared either after the organizing leader died (old age), or after they received a lump sum settlement. It's apparent now that those many voices of comfort women weren't part of the those groups that may or may not have legally represented them before. This type of incoherent representation can be problematic especially when any type of government is involved, where bureaucrats simply seek a type of resolution, and they wrongly assumed that such legal and monetary resolution would be the end of the story.
The expectation from the victim's side is surprisingly lucid, thanks to the precedence set forth by post-war Germany. But Germany was surrounded by demanding world powers. Korea is but a small nation with no outside help in this matter. The Chinese economic ascent is the only real reason why this matter is coming to the fore because of the shared history as a neighboring country. Even the historical sites in China, such as the location of the Provisional Government of Korea during the Occupation, places where Korean militia were trained, and places where other so-called independence fighters resided are only now starting to become memorialized. However, unlike Koreans, Chinese do not consider themselves as having been occupied by a lesser people -- as a part of the Allied force they won
the war against Japanese. It also doesn't help that Japanese psyche just operates little differently. They perceive themselves as a superior, unique breed of human stock, and maybe even a benefactor to a group of people with questionable pedigree who were mere victims. Of course, such perception could be found in any nation, but this is brought out more in contrast in this specific historical situation.
Add to this the spirit of samurai. In the traditional warrior culture, a warrior would say "Consider yourself lucky even to be alive," or "How could you even live thus far with such a shame of defeat?" And we indeed see a lot of derivative of such statements in many of rhetorics of anti-Koreanism (嫌韓) sweeping across Japan right now, especially a repeated mantra of "Koreans are always feeling inferior and that's why they (fill in the blank)." The mound of thousands of ears of Korean men and women slain in previous centuries still stand as a memorial in Japan. On the flip side, there are many Japanese citizens who are speaking out against such brazen rhetoric and proud warrior-like chauvinism inherent in their traditional culture.
It is grievous for living Korean victims to see such unrepentant Japan. Korean victims have simply unified their voices towards Japan, which, paradoxically, has been more loudly venerating their war heroes who had once dreamed of subjugating the world to the yoke of their emperor, and they are reconstituting their history textbooks to fit the bill.
Japan should just follow its conscience, which is more often found among its academics and regular citizens, in acknowledging the history for what it was and help create a more peaceful future for its progeny.See question on Quora