South Korea's Cabinet minister in charge of women's affairs said Monday she hopes Japan will faithfully carry out a landmark agreement with South Korea on resolving the issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.
Gender Equality and Family Minister Kang Eun-hee made the remark to South Korean correspondents in New York, saying that the December agreement with Japan is a done deal and should be respected, though critics raised objections.
Kang was in New York as head of Seoul's delegation to a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
"Though there is controversy over whether it's a good deal or a bad deal, we have to take a realistic look at the time left for" elderly victims, Kang said, stressing that there is no point in having such a deal if it comes after all victims passed away.
"This year alone, two have passed away," she said.
The December agreement centered on Japan's formal admission of responsibility for the crime and plans to pay 1 billion yen in reparations to the victims. South Korea promised to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fulfills its responsibilities.
But critics denounced the agreement for failing to take the victims' positions into consideration.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Japan has long attempted to water down the atrocity, one of the greatest thorns in relations between the two sides.
But the December deal offered hope for progress in the frayed ties. (Yonhap)