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Wartime sex slave victims ask U.N. to determine legitimacy of Seoul-Tokyo deal

Elderly South Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II sent a petition to the United Nations on Thursday, asking the international body to determine the legitimacy of the recent deal between Seoul and Tokyo over the issue, their legal representatives said.

South Korea and Japan reached a landmark deal last month to resolve the issue of the so-called comfort women.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave an apology and Japan agreed to offer 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) in reparations to the victims through a fund to be created by the South Korean government.

Under the deal, South Korea promised a final resolution of the issue if Japan fulfills its commitments.

Amid controversy over the agreement, the Lawyers for a Democratic Society said 10 surviving victims filed the petition seeking the U.N. to declare the pact to be illegitimate and to recommend the two governments make efforts to resolve the issue properly.

The lawyers association said the pact did not adopt a victim-centered approach, failing to fulfill international standards on resolving related matters.

"The agreement, which does not stipulate recognition of legal responsibility and an appropriate apology, does not meet international criteria set out in the international human rights laws," Kim Ki-nam, a lawyer representing the victims, said in a press conference held at a shelter of the victims in western Seoul.

"The South Korean government should have consulted with the victims before reaching an agreement," said Kim Bok-dong, 90, a former comfort woman.

Meanwhile, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan said it had collected some 102 million won ($84,000) from citizens since it started a fundraising campaign on Jan. 14.

The target amount is 10 billion won to establish an independent foundation to replace what the two countries agreed to set up with 1 billion yen from the Japanese government.   

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45. (Yonhap)