'Comfort women': Japan and South Korea hail agreement
December 28, 2015 5:10 pm
The leaders of Japan and South Korea have welcomed the agreement between their two countries to settle the issue of “comfort women” forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War Two.
Japan has apologised and will pay 1bn yen ($8.3m; £5.6m) – the amount South Korea asked for – to fund victims.
Estimates suggest up to 200,000 women were sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WW2, many of them Korean.
Other women came from China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan.
The issue has been the key cause of strained relations between Japan and South Korea.
Only 46 former “comfort women” are still alive in South Korea.
The agreement came after Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met his counterpart Yun Byung-se in Seoul, following moves to speed up talks.
Later Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe phoned South Korean President Park Geun-hye to repeat an apology already offered by Mr Kishida.
“Japan and South Korea are now entering a new era,” Mr Abe told reporters afterwards. “We should not drag this problem into the next generation.”
Ms Park issued a separate statement, saying a deal had been urgently needed – given the advanced age of most of the victims.
“Nine died this year alone,” she said. “I hope the mental pains of the elderly comfort women will be eased.”