S. Korea says agreement on comfort women is official

S. Korea says agreement on comfort women is official

South Korea s incoming Foreign Minister Park Jin said that a bilateral agreement signed with Japan in 2015 over wartime comfort women is official, giving a hint of how the new government will approach history issues with Tokyo.

The term comfort women is a euphemism for those who were victims of Japan's military brothel system during World War II. Under various circumstances, they were forced into sexual servitude, including abduction, deception and poverty.

In December 2015, the two countries signed a deal to put an end to the historical feud over the women. The current Moon Jae-in government that came into office in 2017 described it as seriously flawed, after which bilateral ties fell to the lowest point in years.

The agreement on comfort women is an official agreement, and the current Moon Jae-in administration acknowledges it. The most important part is the joint efforts from South Korea and Japan to recover the honor and dignity of the victims, Park told reporters.

Japan paid 1 billion dollars and the money was distributed through a foundation for former comfort women and the families of those who died.

The foundation was dissolved in 2019 after the Moon administration concluded that the deal, reached under a previous government, did not reflect the women's wishes.

Regarding Yoon's delegation to Japan from Sunday ahead of his inauguration on May 10, Park said that it was still being arranged for a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The seven-member delegation, including Lee Sang-deok, who negotiated the deal with Japan in 2015, has stirred concerns among South Korean civic groups.

The Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan said in a statement that South Korea sincoming government should go to the table with Japan after listening to the victims and public opinion.

The civic group expressed concerns that Yoon would try to settle the row with Japan quickly, without fully considering the former comfort women's sentiment for the sake of normalizing and recovering South Korea-Japan ties.