Center for ‘comfort women’ history opens

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Center for ‘comfort women’ history opens

The government-run Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea is starting a center to compile research on the history of the Japanese military’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.

The center, opening today, will engage in the excavation and collection of historical records on wartime sexual slavery and build a database on the issue, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said on Thursday.

The government hopes the center will serve as a hub for research on the so-called comfort women issue. It will examine historical records from outside the country, including China, Japan and countries in Southeast Asia to centralize information about the atrocity.

Another key function of the government-run center will be preserving history through the publication and dissemination of records in Korea and abroad, the ministry said.

“It is important to compile and centralize the results of objective, empirical research projects that private groups and other researchers have carried out so far,” Minister Chung Hyun-back said, “and systemically conduct research to follow up with them so that future generations can correctly understand history and not repeat past wrongdoings.”

The move is in line with the Moon Jae-in government’s effort to reverse a 2015 deal signed between then-President Park Geun-hye and the Japanese government to settle the matter.

Up to hundreds of thousands of Asian women, many of them Koreans, were forced to serve in military brothels for Japanese troops during World War II while the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule.

In the deal to settle the diplomatic conflict, Japan paid 1 billion yen ($9 million) to support the victims and their families in return for Seoul putting the issue to rest once and for all, but the Moon administration dismissed the deal as ineffective, citing its lack of regard for victims’ opinions.

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