S Korean officials to talk to sex slaves

2015-12-29 13:37
Former South Korean sex slaves, who were forced to be available to the Japanese Army during World War II, meet in Seoul. (Hong Ji-won, AP)

Former South Korean sex slaves, who were forced to be available to the Japanese Army during World War II, meet in Seoul. (Hong Ji-won, AP)

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Seoul - South Korean officials are to meet former wartime sex slaves on Tuesday to seek their support for a landmark deal with Japan, after criticism it does not properly atone for the treatment of women forced into WWII army brothels.

Japan offered a "heartfelt apology" and a $8.3m payment to the surviving Korean women forced into sexual slavery, under the agreement Seoul and Tokyo described "final and irreversible."

The fate of the 46 surviving South Korean "comfort women"- the euphemism by which they are known - is a hugely emotional issue in the South and a source of long-running distrust that has marred relations with Japan for decades.

Officials of both nations hailed the deal as a major breakthrough, but South Korean media and the women themselves gave a mixed reaction, particularly taking issue with Tokyo's refusal to take formal legal responsibility.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday the payment was aimed at "restoring the women's dignity" but was not an official compensation.

"There is a clear difference between just a payment and official compensation paid as a result of a crime," said Lee Yong-Soo, one of the victims. "I will completely ignore the agreement."

Forced to provide sex

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye called for "understanding by the public and the victims" about the deal.

The foreign ministry said two vice ministers would visit two comfort women shelters later to explain the terms and win the victims' support - a step which will be key to securing the approval of the nation.

Up to 200 000 women in Asia, many of them Korean, are estimated to have been systematically forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Japan has long maintained that the dispute was settled in a 1965 agreement which saw Tokyo establish diplomatic ties and make a payment of $800m in grants or loans to Korea, which it ruled from 1910-1945.

Read more on:    south korea

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