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South Korea and Japan Reach Deal on Wartime ‘Comfort Women’

Deal will include support services using Japanese government funds

South Korea and Japan Reach Deal on Wartime ‘Comfort Women’ - screen shot


South Korea and Japan reached a landmark deal on Monday to resolve the issue of Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, held talks at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul and announced the agreement that centered on Japan’s admission of responsibility for the wartime crime and plans to pay reparations to the victims.

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“The comfort women issue is an issue whereby many women under the then military’s involvement bore deep scars to their honor and dignity, and from this perspective, the Japanese government acutely feels responsible, ” Kishida said in a joint press conference with Yun at the ministry.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe, as prime minister of Japan, once again expresses an apology and repentance from the heart to all those who as comfort women experienced much pain and bore scars that are difficult to heal on their bodies and souls.”

The meeting between Yun and Kishida was watched closely as the two countries have recently intensified efforts to resolve the longstanding dispute. The neighboring nations’ ties have often been strained by rows over their shared history.

In the deal, Japan agreed to offer 1 billion yen in reparations to the victims through a fund to be created by the South Korean government.

South Korea vowed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fulfills its responsibilities.

The deal came less than two months after President Park Geun-hye and Abe agreed to speed up negotiations on the issue in their first summit on Nov. 2.

Park had called for a resolution by the end of this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.

Historians estimate that more than 200, 000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45. The victims are called “comfort women.”

South Korea demanded Japan offer a formal apology and proper compensation to the victims before they all die. Earlier this month, a former South Korean comfort woman died at age 96, reducing the number of surviving victims in the country to 46.

Japan claimed it fulfilled its legal responsibility in a package deal under the normalization treaty of 1965, but South Korea insisted the comfort women issue should be handled separately as it constitutes a crime against humanity.

By Yonhap




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