Bill aims to establish a ‘comfort women’ day

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Bill aims to establish a ‘comfort women’ day

A South Korean parliamentary panel endorsed a bill Wednesday aimed at designating a special day commemorating the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.

The revision to the law on support for the women forced to serve in frontline brothels by Japan’s military during World War II calls for designating Aug. 14 as the day for remembering their suffering. On that day in 1991, Kim Hak-sun, a former sex slave, made the first-ever public testimony on Japan’s wartime misdeed. Her testimony was regarded as a brave act, as few victims at the time were willing to publicly talk about what had happened to them. The legislation passed by the National Assembly’s gender equality committee also includes a clause to provide funeral service expenses for victims in low-income brackets. It still has to go through a full parliamentary vote for final approval.

Since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May, Seoul has paid more policy attention to the wartime humanitarian issue involving the former sex slaves. In particular, it has been reviewing the legitimacy of a 2015 arrangement with Tokyo to settle the comfort women issue, noting that victims and citizens cannot “emotionally” accept it.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced by Japan into sexual servitude during wartime. The number of surviving South Korean victims stands at 35.

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