South Korean President Park Geun-hye thanked the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday for his support in Seoul's efforts to resolve the issue of Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is known for his sympathy and support for the so-called comfort women issue. Earlier this month, he visited the statue of a girl set up in Glendale, California, in memory of the victims and paid his respects to a recently deceased former sex slave.
On Tuesday, Park met with Royce and other members of his committee.
"One recently published photo of Chairman Royce moved the hearts of all South Koreans," Park told Royce. "Our people were greatly touched to see you visit the girl's statue in Glendale and pay respects to" the recently deceased victim of the sexual slavery.
"Going beyond the history issue, this is an issue about women's rights during war," Park said. "A number of grandmothers, who suffered unforgettable pains as girls, passed away, and another died last year too. Only 55 of them are left. I believe it is urgent to resolve this issue as early as possible."
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery at front-line Japanese military brothels during its colonial rule.
South Korea has urged Japan to resolve the grievances of the victims, saying the issue is becoming increasingly urgent as most victims are elderly, well over 80 years old, and may die before they receive compensation or an apology from Japan.
Japan has snubbed Seoul's demand for official talks on compensating the aging Korean women, claiming all issues regarding its colonial rule were settled in a 1965 package compensation deal under which the two countries normalized their relations. (Yonhap)