S. Korea: Parts of WWII Sex Slave Deal Were Kept Secret

Panel reviewed 2015 'comfort women' agreement with Japan, found it lacking
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2017 7:04 AM CST
WWII Sex Slaves Could Ruin South Korea-Japan Relations
A woman takes a photo in front of a comfort woman statue and empty chairs symbolizing victims of comfort women in Seoul.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Exactly two years ago, Japan and South Korea agreed that if Japan did what it had promised, the issue of WWII sex slaves—or "comfort women," forced to work in Japanese brothels for soldiers—would be "finally and irreversibly resolved." Maybe not. A panel put together by South Korea's Foreign Ministry to review the deal has determined the agreement doesn't "fundamentally resolve" the issue because the surviving victims' opinions weren't considered. The deal was made under South Korea's previous government, and the current one will now consider the panel's conclusions, says Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, per the BBC. The 2015 deal "failed to sufficiently reflect a victim-oriented approach, which is the universal standard in resolving human rights issues," she said.

Per the Korea Times, the fault lies with South Korea and the Park Geun-hye administration, which came to the agreement without consulting survivors. The Korea Herald adds that the investigation confirmed the Park administration kept parts of the deal—regarding the use of the term "sex slaves" and the memorial statues for the women currently located near the Japanese embassy in Seoul—secret. Japan was biting in its response, saying the deal was the product of "legitimate negotiations" and that "if [South Korea] tries to revise the agreement that is already being implemented, that would make Japan’s ties with South Korea unmanageable and it would be unacceptable," Reuters reports. The Herald notes of the estimated 200,000 comfort women, 32 South Korean victims are still alive today. (There was a comfort-women issue at a dinner with President Trump.)

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