USA welcomes Japan, S Korea agreement on WWII 'comfort women'

Dec 30, 2015, 00:13

"The issue of "comfort women" was a matter which, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, severely injured the honor and dignity of many women", the foreign minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, said on Monday, as he read from the agreement at a news conference in Seoul.

The deal included an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a billion yen (roughly $8.3 million) fund to support the 46 surviving Korean women.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Washington "congratulates the governments of Japan and [South Korea] on reaching an agreement, which they have made clear "finally and irreversibly" addresses the tragic treatment of "comfort women" during World War II", Yonhap reported.

Japan issued a 1993 statement that expressed "sincere apologies and remorse" to the women "who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women".

The row over the Korean women forced into prostitution for Japan's military brothels during World War Two remains the last major obstacle to better ties between the East Asian neighbours. They were euphemistically known as "comfort women".

Abe directly apologized twice via a statement by the foreign minister and in a phone call with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea.

A statue of a girl that represents the sexual victims by the Japanese military is seen in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, December 28, 2015. The monetary contribution is a step forward towards the Japanese government fully acknowledging and accepting responsibility for what happened. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also offer an apology and honest reflection in his official capacity.

"The secretary general has stressed the importance of the countries in Northeast Asia to build the future oriented relationship, based on the recognition of history", the statement added.

He said Seoul would also refrain from bringing up the comfort women issue again in worldwide forums such as the United Nations. She says Japan actually gave little ground in this agreement that silences the South Korean government. The two countries together host about 80,000 USA troops and are members of now-stalled regional talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions in return for aid.

One former comfort woman said yesterday that she would follow her government's lead, but another, Lee Yong-su, 88, was angry that Tokyo did not consider the money to be formal compensation.

The agreement, however, received mixed reviews among former comfort women, with some dismissing it as no more than a diplomatic expediency.

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