S. Korea urges Japan to implement comfort women agreement

Updated: 2016-01-13 14:03


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SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday urged Japan to play its role in implementing the bilateral agreement on Japan's wartime sex slavery of Korean women during World War II.

"How the Japanese government and media do is very important, though South Korea's government will do its best, to make the agreement well understood and accepted," Park told the national televised speech.

Park said if distorted words and acts come from the Japanese government and media hurting the heart of comfort women victims, it would be much more difficult for Seoul to make its people understand the agreement.

Park's comments came after Seoul and Tokyo reached a final and irreversible agreement on the comfort women, a euphemism for women forcibly recruited to serve in Japan's military brothels during the devastating war, on Dec 28, 2015.

Japan vowed to offer 1 billion yen (about $8.3 million) and coffered to help South Korea set up an assistance fund for the victims.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered his message of apology and remorse "from his heart" to the wartime sex slavery victims.

In return for those action and word, South Korea pledged a final and irreversible agreement on the war crime and promised to refrain from criticizing Japan in the international community.

The South Korean victims and their advocates continued the so-called "Wednesday rally" that has been held every Wednesday for more than 20 years in protest against the agreement as it lacked of Japan's legal responsibility for the wartime atrocities.

Japanese media reported that South Korea agreed behind the doors with Japan to remove a "girl statue" standing in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, which was denied by the South Korean government.

The statue, erected there in 2011 with funds donated by citizens, describes a teenage girl forcibly conscripted and raped by Japanese soldiers.

Park said all the negotiations have a limitation in reality, stressing a timely urgency of the issue because only 46 victims with an average age of 89 are alive. Last year, nine victims passed away due to the old age.

According to the government's survey and meeting with the victims, former South Korean comfort women called for three points, including Japan's acknowledgement of its military's involvement in the wartime crime, Japan's official apology and the compensation offer, which are reflected in the Dec 28 agreement, Park said.

The president also said the removal of the girl statue is not a matter the government can decide on, saying that distorted reports and comments will not be desirable and only cause controversy.