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Seoul to speak to Tokyo on controversial 'comfort women' funds

South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun is visiting Japan on Wednesday and Thursday to meet his Japanese counterpart Takeo Akiba to discuss the controversial compensation fund Tokyo offered in 2015 for Korean victims of Japan’s wartime slavery, which the Korean victims have been refusing to accept, a government official said.

The 1 billion yen ($9 million) fund was provided by Tokyo as part of the controversial 2015 Seoul-Tokyo deal to settle the issue of “comfort women”-- South Korean victims who were forced work in Japanese brothels during World War II. The deal, which included an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stated that the matter was resolved “finally and irreversibly” between the two countries. 

Gil Won-ock, one of the Korean victims of Japan`s wartime sexual slavery during World War II, speaks during a public rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 17. The statue of a young girl (right), erected in front of the embassy, honors the vicitms. (Yonhap)
Gil Won-ock, one of the Korean victims of Japan`s wartime sexual slavery during World War II, speaks during a public rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 17. The statue of a young girl (right), erected in front of the embassy, honors the vicitms. (Yonhap)

The Korean survivors of Japan’s wartime atrocities have strongly protested the 2015 deal, saying Tokyo’s apology did not go far enough in acknowledging the Japanese government’s legal responsibility for what the women view as systematic war crimes. 

They also stressed that the Korean government at the time, headed by now-ousted President Park Geun-hye, did not consult them before signing the deal. President Moon Jae-in has been critical of the agreement.

Earlier this year, Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Seoul would set aside 1 billion yen, the same sum provided by Tokyo under the 2015 deal, while upholding the agreement between the two countries.

Seoul has not mentioned what they would do with the 1 billion yen fund, although a government panel last year concluded that the 2015 deal failed to meet the needs of the now-elderly Korean victims.

(dyc@heraldcorp.com)
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