S Korea starts review of ‘comfort women’ deal

上一篇 / 下一篇  2017-08-02 11:02:46

PROMISED REVIEW:A task force is to consider whether the opinions of the victims were reflected in the controversial agreement made with Tokyo in December 2015
South Korea yesterday 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 the US allies.

Mainstream historians say that up to 200,000 women — mostly from Korea, but also other parts of Asia including Taiwan and China — were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

For many South Koreans, the plight of the so-called “comfort women” epitomizes the abuses of Japan’s 1910 to 1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea and Japan reached a “final and irreversible” agreement in December 2015, under which Tokyo offered an apology and ¥1 billion (US$9.04 million at the current exchange rate) to open a foundation for the dwindling number of comfort women who are still alive.

The deal, reached by the administration of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, was condemned by some of the women and South Korean activists, who took issue with Japan’s refusal to accept formal legal responsibility and questioned the sincerity of its apology.

A government-appointed task force was launched to investigate the deal, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“Our task is to thoroughly review the problems in the negotiations and in the agreement itself,” task force head Oh Tai-kyu told reporters after its first meeting, adding that the group would consider “whether the opinions of the victims have been fully reflected in the agreement.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in had promised a review on the campaign trail.

However, the move threatens to complicate relations with Tokyo, even as the two nations face threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Japan maintains that the two nations 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.

Thirty-seven of the surviving South Korean comfort women refused to accept the final compensation provided by Japan.

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






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