South Korea and Japan have reached a landmark agreement on the issue of wartime sex slaves. The issue of “comfort women” – Koreans forced to work in Japan’s wartime brothels – has long plagued ties between the neighbors.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se announced that talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida had resulted in a deal that would be “final and irreversible” as long as Japan fulfilled its responsibilities as specified in the agreement.
The Japanese government pledged to contribute 1 billion Japanese yen (7.5 million euros or $8.3 million) to a fund set up to help the now-elderly women in South Korea, Kishida told a news conference. Kishida said his country felt “deep responsibility” over the issue.
“Prime Minister Abe, as the prime minister of Japan, once again expresses his feeling of heartfelt apology and remorse to all those who, as ‘comfort women,’ experienced much suffering and incurred incurable psychological and physical wounds,” Kishida told reporters.
Korean women had been forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II, resulting in decades of friction in relations between Seoul and Tokyo. The two countries are important allies and trading partners in many other modern respects, both with strong ties to the US.
ss/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)