Reps vow help for sex slaves
An association of Korean and Japanese lawmakers said it will strive to restore the honor of victims enslaved by Japan’s military in World War II and help the Seoul and Tokyo governments to hold a long-delayed summit meeting.
In a statement announced during the association’s 37th joint general meeting on Saturday at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, lawmakers from the two countries said they will work together to heal the wounds and restore the honor of the women who suffered forced sexual enslavement before and after the Pacific War, echoing a call from President Park Geun-hye on Friday that the Shinzo Abe cabinet take measures to restore the honor of the elderly victims.
During her Friday meeting with the association, Park said solving the longstanding issue will be the first step in forging new bilateral relations between the two neighbors.
The meeting on Friday at the Blue House raised expectations of a possible summit between Park and Abe, which will mark the first meeting between the two since Korea’s president took office last February and could lead to a thaw in chilly relations.
The association said it will honor the spirit of the Kono and Murayama statements, both of which acknowledged Japan’s forced sexual labor imposed on young Korean women during the war and apologized for wartime atrocities inflicted on the Korean Peninsula.
The association’s remark on the 1993 Kono Statement comes amid ongoing calls by conservative politicians in Japan to revise the statement with an apparent aim to reverse its apology.
Japan’s Prime Minster Shinzo Abe has denied that the Imperial Japanese Army forcibly recruited Korean women and girls for use as sexual slaves, calling the accusation “groundless slander” at the National Diet on Oct. 3.
The association also said Korean and Japanese lawmakers will work together to induce North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and seeks ways to improve human rights in the Communist country and resolve the long-standing issue of Japanese abducted by the Pyongyang regime.
The association, started in 1975, aims to improve political, social and economic ties between the two countries.
The Korean branch is headed by Rep. Suh Chung-won of the ruling Saenuri Party. Fukushiro Nukaga, a former finance minister and opposition Liberal Democratic Party member, headed the delegation of Japanese Diet members.
The association’s 37th general meeting was attended by about 80 lawmakers from the two countries, including Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa, who urged Japan to resolve its wartime sexual slavery issue during a speech in the meeting on Saturday. Chung is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Abe today in Tokyo.
BY LEE YOON-SEOK, KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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