S. Korea to re­view deal over sex slaves

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SEOUL — South Korea on Mon­day be­gan an of­fi­cial re­view of a con­tro­ver­sial agree­ment with Ja­pan over World War II sex slaves, for­mally reopen­ing an is­sue that still strains ties be­tween them.

Main­stream his­to­ri­ans said up to 200,000 women, mostly from the Korea Penin­sula but also other parts of Asia in­clud­ing China, were forced to work in Ja­panese mil­i­tary broth­els dur­ing World War II.

The plight of the “com­fort women” is a hugely emo­tional is­sue that has marred re­la­tions be­tween the Asian neigh­bors for decades. For many South Kore­ans, it epit­o­mizes the abuses of Ja­pan’s 1910-45 colo­nial rule over the penin­sula.

South Korea and Ja­pan reached a “fi­nal and ir­re­versible” agree­ment in De­cem­ber 2015, un­der which Tokyo of­fered an apol­ogy and 1 bil­lion yen ($9 mil­lion) to open a foun­da­tion for the dwin­dling num­ber of com­fort women who are still alive.

The deal, reached by the pre­vi­ous Seoul ad­min­is­tra­tion of Park Geun-hye, was con­demned by some of the women and ac­tivists, who took is­sue with Ja­pan’s re­fusal to ac­cept for­mal le­gal re­sponsi- bil­ity and ques­tioned the sin­cer­ity of its apol­ogy.

A gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed task force was launched on Mon­day to in­ves­ti­gate the deal, Seoul’s For­eign Min­istry said.

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in had promised a re­view on the cam­paign trail. But Ja­pan main­tains that the two coun­tries must abide by the agree­ment.


Since its sign­ing, it has pressed Seoul to re­move a statue of a girl erected in front of the Ja­panese em­bassy in Seoul by ac­tivists to sym­bol­ize the vic­tims of sex slav­ery.

They have since put up more stat­ues — in­clud­ing one out­side the Ja­panese con­sulate in Bu­san — which led to Tokyo re­call­ing its am­bas­sador for three months ear­lier this year.

Sev­eral of the sur­viv­ing South Korean com­fort women — cur­rently num­ber­ing 37 — re­fused to ac­cept the fi­nal com­pen­sa­tion pro­vided by Ja­pan.

A group of 12 com­fort women filed a law­suit against Seoul last year for sign­ing the agree­ment with­out their con­sent and de­spite Tokyo’s re­fusal to take le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.