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[Editorial] Outrageous remarks

Seoul should review efficacy of sex slavery deal

Despite the agreement with the government of South Korea in late 2015, Japan has yet to halt its distortions of historical facts about the wartime sex slavery during the Japanese colonial rule of the peninsula.

On the English website of its foreign ministry, a senior Japanese official again denied forceful mobilization of the so-called comfort women by its military and government authorities during World War II.

Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama was quoted as saying that the Japanese government started a fact-finding work in the early 1990s about the sex slavery, but it still could not be confirmed that there was “any forceful taking away of comfort women by the military and government authorities.”

Sugiyama noted that the concept of forceful mobilization is based on what he claimed were fabrications carried in a book titled “My War Crimes,” whose author said that many women on Jejudo, South Korea, were taken away by the military.

In addition, he argued that even Asahi Shimbun, which highlighted the issue, also acknowledged that there were errors when it came to verifying the facts.

The posting of such controversial remarks by the deputy foreign minister goes against what South Korea and Japan agreed upon late last year to settle the slavery issue once and for all.

The bilateral foreign ministries signed a landmark deal last December to put an end to the long-running rift over sexual slavery of Korean women by Japanese troops during World War II. Japan had expressed an apology for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to launch a foundation dedicated to healing the scars of the surviving victims and supporting them. Japan has been avoiding calling the money that it promised to contribute to the foundation as reparation causing doubt here about the sincerity of the apology.

It is a matter of concern how the Korean government will cope with the situation involving the official’s remarks. The bilateral pact clarifies that it is a deal that is “irreversible.”

While Japanese officials including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have continued to release ludicrous statements even after the deal, Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and high-ranking officials are not saying anything back.

The remarks on the Japanese government website is a denial of the December agreement. If Japan repeatedly tries to distort facts, the Korean government has to demand a renegotiation of the comfort women deal or its nullification.
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