Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se says that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s apology was a clear, summit-level acknowledgement of responsibility for Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.
Under the agreement, Japan apologized and offered a one-billion yen ($8.3 million) payment to the Korean women who were forced to work as sex slaves.
South Korean officials were to meet with former wartime sex slaves to seek their support for a landmark deal with Japan, after criticism it does not properly atone for the treatment of women forced into WWII army brothels. “This servility is more than a slap to our own comfort women who until now get no justice, it also reminds us how the Aquino family collaborated with Japan’s occupation of our country during the Second World War”, Ilagan said.
Among those present for the latest protest were two former so-called “comfort women”, including 88-year-old Lee Yong-soo. Some regard it as acceptable – albeit not fully satisfactory – while others simply dismiss it. Opponents think the agreement is a humiliating deal because both sides hastily declared an end to the controversy without giving Japan legal responsibility for the tragedy during World War II.
They are suspected of chanting and holding banners saying “South Korean citizens are against the deal” or that “Japan should make a legal compensation”.
Ties between Tokyo and Seoul have always been soured by the sex slave issue, a legacy of Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean peninsula and of World War II.
The Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday quoted a South Korean official as denying Japanese news reports that Seoul agreed to relocate the statue.
“Discussions are to be conducted between Representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) and Interchange Association Japan President Tadashi Imai in Tokyo, and between Association of East Asian Relations Secretary-General Chang Jen-joe (張仁久) and the Interchange Association Japan’s Taipei Office Secretary-General Takashi Hamada in Taipei”, Lin said.
Civic groups supporting the victims said they will hold a candlelight vigil every evening in front of the statue to prevent it from being moved and to oppose the deal.
Some say Abe aimed to show consideration to government supporters who are in opposition to the recent deal.
“The comfort women issue is one of the earlier examples of mass performed human trafficking organized by a military and government”, Jung-shil Lee, an art history professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the vice president of the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women, said a year ago, when the memorial to the Comfort Women was erected on the grounds of the Fairfax County government center.