Group decries ‘comfort women’ deal

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Group decries ‘comfort women’ deal

Some 380 domestic and foreign scholars and activists are pushing to form an association to research the Japanese military’s history of wartime sexual slavery and bring the victims proper justice, a group of Korean professors announced on Monday.

In a statement, the activists dismissed an agreement reached on Dec. 28 between Korea and Japan promising an apology from Tokyo and a multimillion-dollar fund for Korean women forced into Japanese military brothels during World War II, euphemistically referred to as comfort women.

“The agreement reached between Korea and Japan’s foreign ministers on Dec. 28 cannot serve as a solution to the comfort women issue,” the professors and activists said in their statement.

Participants involved in the movement include Lee Na-young, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University; Chung Chin-sung, a sociology professor at Seoul National University (SNU); Lee Jae-seung, a law professor at Konkuk University; and Yang Hyun-ah, a law professor at SNU.

The group called the deal “a diplomatic mistake by the Korean government” and demanded it be scrapped.

The landmark agreement, negotiated by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, includes an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It also calls for the creation of a foundation to support the victims to be funded by the Japanese government and amounting to approximately 1 billion yen ($8.3 million).

In their statement, the scholars were also critical of the agreement for not making clear Japan’s criminal responsibility, failing to address punishment for the perpetrators and neglecting to enable measures that would incorporate the issue into Japan’s history education curriculum. “The core of the comfort women issue is that of Japan’s state responsibility in forcing numerous women into sexual slavery,” the statement said.

It added that the recent deal did not have any impact on resolving the legal dispute for Japan’s wartime victims, and further said that Japan must accept the truth, apologize, provide compensation, investigate the issue, enable history education and punish the perpetrators to take full responsibility.

Activists continued Monday at a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to call for the government to scrap the deal, which they say does not reflect the wishes of the survivors.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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