Korean politi­cians call for nul­li­fy­ing sex slave deal

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Korea’s op­po­si­tion politi­cians yes­ter­day called for nul­li­fy­ing a set­tle­ment reached be­tween Seoul and Tokyo on com­pen­sa­tion for South Korean women forced into sex­ual slav­ery by Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary in World War II. Their state­ments on the an­niver­sary of the deal came amid grow­ing ef­forts to erase some of the key poli­cies of im­peached Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye. Fac­ing po­lit­i­cal and pub­lic pres­sure, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry on Tues­day back­tracked from a much­crit­i­cized plan to re­quire mid­dle and high schools to use only state-is­sued his­tory text­books from next year.

Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Party, said the party will work to in­val­i­date the sex slave agree­ment if it wins the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that could take place in just months, echo­ing sim­i­lar prom­ises made by the party’s po­ten­tial can­di­dates. Kim Gyeong-rok, spokesman of the Peo­ple’s Party, crit­i­cized the Park ad­min­is­tra­tion for “sell­ing away” the vic­tims’ honor and dig­nity, and said the is­sue couldn’t be re­solved with­out Ja­pan of­fer­ing a sin­cere apol­ogy and ad­mit­ting le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Un­der the agree­ment, Ja­pan pledged to give 1 bil­lion yen ($8.5 mil­lion) to a foun­da­tion to help sup­port the for­mer sex slaves. South Korea, in ex­change, vowed to re­frain from crit­i­ciz­ing Ja­pan over the is­sue. The deal was widely crit­i­cized in South Korea, where many thought the gov­ern­ment set­tled for far too less. Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers gath­ered around a statute of a girl sym­bol­iz­ing South Korean sex­ual slav­ery vic­tims near a street in Seoul where Ja­pan has been re­con­struct­ing its em­bassy build­ing, call­ing for the agree­ment to be scrapped and the foun­da­tion to be dis­solved.

It’s un­clear whether South Korea could re­verse an agree­ment both gov­ern­ments de­scribed as “ir­re­versible.” Park’s con­ser­va­tive rul­ing party crit­i­cized Woo, ac­cus­ing him of at­tack­ing the deal with­out propos­ing al­ter­na­tives and act­ing like his party al­ready won the pres­i­den­tial race. Park, who was im­peached by the coun­try’s op­po­si­tion-con­trolled par­lia­ment over a cor­rup­tion scan­dal on Dec 9, had en­dorsed the state his­tory text­books, say­ing it would in­spire pa­tri­o­tism in stu­dents. Her crit­ics saw the books at an at­tempt to white­wash the bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ships that pre­ceded the coun­try’s bloody tran­si­tion to­ward democ­racy in the 1980s.

Park is the daugh­ter of slain mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor Park Chung-hee, whose legacy as a suc­cess­ful eco­nomic strate­gist is marred by records of vi­o­lent civil­ian op­pres­sion. Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Lee Joon-sik said schools could keep us­ing his­tory text­books made by pri­vate pub­lish­ers next year, al­though they can also choose to use state text­books on a trial ba­sis. South Korea’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court has up to six months to de­cide whether Park should per­ma­nently step down or be re­in­stated. If she is for­mally re­moved from of­fice, a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion must be held within 60 days.

SEOUL: A woman places a flower in front of por­traits of the de­ceased for­mer South Korean sex slaves who were forced to serve for the Ja­panese mil­i­tary in World War II, dur­ing a rally against Ja­panese gov­ern­ment in front of the Ja­panese em­bassy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.