S.Korean politicians denounce agreement with Japan on comfort women

Updated: 2015-12-30 16:16


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SEOUL - South Korean politicians denounced the agreement with Japan on comfort women, a euphemism for women forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japan's military brothels during World War II.

Denunciations came even from the ruling party's lawmakers as the deal between Seoul and Tokyo lacked enough communications with the comfort women victims and left many controversies.

Chung Byung-kook, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, said during a party meeting Wednesday that he felt there is a lack of communications with the comfort women victims in the process of negotiating with Japan though it achieved a big advance.

The issue on wartime sex slavery can be seen as coming to a complete settlement only when the victims regard it as a complete settlement, Chung said, calling for more active communications with the victims.

Another party lawmaker Kim Eul-dong said that the issue hasn't been resolved yet despite the agreement, calling for more efforts to make the victims accept Japan's apology as sincere and cure their wounds.

Foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan met in Seoul on Monday, reaching a final and irreversible agreement on Japan's wartime atrocities on Korean women forcibly recruited to serve in Japan's military brothels during the Japanese colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered his apology and remorse toward the victims, promising to provide 1 billion yen (about 8.3 million U.S. dollars) from his government coffers to help set up an assistance fund for the victims in South Korea.

The South Korean victims were dissatisfied with the agreement as it failed to extract Japan's acknowledgement of "legal" responsibility. The failure would prevent the victims from seeking damages against the war crime from the Japanese government.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Japanese reporters that the assistance fund would not be damages against the war crime but a mere conciliatory compensation. Most of the South Korean victims refused to receive conciliatory money from the now-defunct Asian Women's Fund, which was disbanded in 2007, because it was set up privately and lacked sincerity.

Moon Jae-in, leader of the main opposition Together Democratic Party, which changed its name on Monday from New Politics Alliance for Democracy, declared the agreement "null" as the parliament gave no green light to it.

Moon said he was against the agreement, noting that it should be nullified because any treaty vowing to give up "our people's rights" demands a parliamentary consent.

The presidential contender in the 2012 election said that his party will continue to seek legal responsibility and damages against the war crime from Japan together with the comfort women victims and other activists at home and abroad, noting that Japan itself admitted to the 1 billion yen not being damages.

The South Korean government seemed to believe that the 1 billion yen out of the Japanese budget indicates the admission of legal responsibility, but South Korea's confirmation of the final, irreversible agreement is expected to prevent the victims from seeking compensation from the Japanese government.

Moon said that the agreement, which lacks damages compensation and apology based on the admission of legal responsibility, cannot be viewed as final nor irreversible, noting that even the president isn't qualified to say about the final or irreversible settlement.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the agreement was a result from the best efforts given the urgency for the aged victims and the harsh reality, calling for understanding of the victims and the public for improved Seoul-Tokyo relations from a broader viewpoint.

President Park had promised an agreement acceptable to the victims and understandable to the general public.