Korea will press sex slave issue at UN assembly

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Korea will press sex slave issue at UN assembly

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is poised to call for Japan to resolve the issue of the so-called comfort women, or sex slaves of the Japanese military during World War II, in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

Yun may give a sterner warning over the painful issue of the comfort women than in previous years, said a diplomatic source.

The source, however, said that the territorial dispute over Dokdo is not expected to be mentioned in Yun’s speech.

“Our position is that Dokdo is not disputed and is our territory, so it is not necessary to raise the issue at the General Assembly,” the source told the Korea JoongAng Daily yesterday.

“In contrast, the issue of the comfort women is an issue that draws international concern as a human rights issue,” the source explained.

Last September, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan denounced Japan’s territorial claim and refusal to atone for its wartime past in his speech at the UN General Assembly. He did not mention Japan by name, but it was clear he was referring to it when he said, “Wartime sexual violence is a fundamental infringement of human rights.”

That speech followed heightened friction between the two countries following former President Lee Myung-bak’s surprise visit to the Dokdo islets, called Takeshima by Japan, the first for a Korean president.

Heading the South Korean delegation, Yun left Seoul on Sunday for a five-day trip to New York, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yun is scheduled to give his address at the UN plenary meeting, give another speech at the Korea Society and have bilateral meetings with foreign ministers of countries including Australia, Turkey and Indonesia.

The source also confirmed that Yun and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida are likely to meet on the sidelines of the UN meeting on Thursday and said the two sides “are positively reviewing” the schedule.

If they meet, the ministers are expected to talk about historical issues, the Fukushima nuclear crisis and follow up on the first bilateral meeting between the foreign ministers.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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