The South Korean government is considering asking for talks with Japan to discuss the lingering issue of compensating the “comfort women” or the women who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul might send an official letter to Tokyo to invite them to come to the negotiating table.
A source from the ministry said that officials are still mulling whether the letter will still be sent. They had previously sent two similar letters in 2011, using diplomatic channels to get an official apology from the Japanese government and to get compensation for the comfort women but both letters went unanswered. Ministry spokeswoman Han Hye-jin said that it was unfortunate that Japan did not even acknowledge their letters and they are urging them to make a “speedy response”. In August 2011, South Korea’s Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling saying that the country’s foreign ministry’s inaction over the issue is unconstitutional and impedes on the rights of the victims.
An estimated 200,000 women were forced to be sexual slaves to the Japanese soldiers, and most of them were Korean women. As of today, there are only 56 former comfort women from South Korea left, and Han said time is running out for them to receive justice, as many have already died of old age. One group, consisting of women mostly in their 80s have been vocal in their fight to get financial compensation from the Japanese government and an official apology. Twenty years ago, the landmark Kono statement was made by then Cabinet spokesperson Yohei Kono where Japan apologized for forcing women into the comfort women system, but since then right-wing politicians have challenged it, saying there was no direct proof that the army was involved in human trafficking.
[ via Global Post ]