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SOUTH KOREAN president Moon Jae In condemned the 2015 deal with Japan over reparations for wartime sex slaves yesterday as “seriously flawed, both in process and content.”
“Once again [I] firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women,” Mr Moon said in a statement , using the euphemism for women and girls forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and ’40s during the country’s conquest and occupation of east Asia.
Mr Moon’s criticism followed Wednesday’s report of a commission set up to study the deal, agreed two years ago yesterday, by which Japan was to pay less than £6 million into a fund to support former sex slaves.
Parts had been kept secret, the panel said, including a Japanese demand that South Korea not use the term “sexual slavery” and that it remove a bronze statue commemorating the sex slaves from outside Japan’s embassy in Seoul.
The South Koreans agreed to the first but didn’t give a clear answer to the second.
The panel also said the government hadn’t properly consulted surviving victims before reaching the deal.
The agreement was negotiated by the government of Mr Moon’s right-wing predecessor Park Geun Hye, who was removed from office and arrested for corruption in March.
Mr Moon vowed during his presidential campaign to renegotiate the agreement.
A government spokesman said only that it would take “sincere and practical” measures to do right by the sex slaves and consult victims and experts before pursuing any changes.
However, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Wednesday that Japan stands by it and that any attempt at revision would make relations between the countries “unmanageable” and “unacceptable.”
The Japanese military forced between 200,000 and 400,000 women into organised sexual slavery, beginning in Shanghai, China, in 1932. Most of the women were from China and Korea but also several other countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia.
As with other states such as Britain, Japan has been extremely reluctant to acknowledge its imperialist past.
Along with its refusal to fully apologise and pay reparations for its taking of sex slaves, leading politicians often visit a shrine commemorating war criminals and rightwingers have repeatedly and successfully campaigned against accurate history textbooks.
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