South Korean presidency defends ‘comfort women’ deal

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye asks for public support for ‘comfort women’ deal with Japan

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) is greeted by South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, December 28, 2015

South Korean presidency defended on Thursday the agreement reached with Japan on “comfort women” as critics raise that it was inadequate.

The presidency office released a statement arguing that it would be "extremely difficult" to reach a deal that satisfies everyone.

It asked "for understanding by South Koreans and the 'comfort women' victims in a broader viewpoint and rally support for the future of the country."

"The scars of the comfort women issue are too deep so that in reality any conclusion reached will only be short of what is needed."

Japan and South Korea have reached a deal on Monday to put an end to the controversy surrounding "comfort women" who were forced to work in brothels by the Japanese Army in World War II.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologised and promised to pay 1B yen [$8.3 million] to a South Korean-administered fund for the victims.

However, Japan refused to call the payment as a compensation and claims that a deal in 1965 led to $800 million in grants or loans to settle the issue.

Seoul, on the other side, defended that the treaty did not provide compensation for the war crimes or victims.

Park’s statement said that if "critics can't accept the agreement and try to take the issue back to the beginning...there is little we can do further to help the survivors while they are alive."

Only 46 known ‘comfort women’ are alive and their average age is 89.

South Korean former "comfort women" Lee Yong-Soo (R) and Gil Won-Ok wipe their tears during an anti-Japanese rally commemorating the death of nine former sex slaves this year in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, December 30, 2015

Half of South Koreans oppose the deal and 43 percent support it, according to a survey by Realmeter polling agency published on Thursday.

Two surviving victims joined a rally outside Japanese embassy in Seoul on Wednesday, criticizing the government for not pushing Japan hard enough for a formal compensation.

Kim Bok-dong, one of the victims who stay in a care home in Seoul said on Monday that "Japan's Abe should say that what his country did was illegal and beg for forgiveness in front of reporters."

Another victim said that she would accept the deal reluctantly because she knew the South Korean government made efforts to settle the issue.

TRTWorld and agencies