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Lack of consultation with victims means ‘comfort women’ deal should not be final: support group

Kyodo

The Japan-South Korea agreement to settle the issue of “comfort women” should not be considered a final resolution as it was concluded without consulting the victims, a support group for the women said in a statement.

“The bilateral talks were held in the absence of the victims. As a result, there still remains a lot of work to do to make it a ‘final resolution,’ ” the Japan Action for Resolution of the Comfort Women Issue said this week.

The statement was issued after the two countries struck a deal on Monday in Seoul to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the long-standing dispute over the use of the women in wartime Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

Under the accord announced by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, Japan will contribute ¥1 billion to a new South Korean fund to support former comfort women as well as acknowledge responsibility for their suffering.

The group said in the statement the agreement did not refer to measures on how to teach wartime history relating to the victims at schools and how to pass on their memory to future generations.

“The two countries, without touching on these points, agreed to refrain from accusing or criticizing each other over the issue in the international community,” it said. “This means they do not recognize the comfort women issue as one regarding women’s human rights.”

Yun has said South Korea “acknowledges” Japan’s concern about a statue of a girl symbolizing the victims in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. It would “make efforts” toward removing it, he said.

The group, however, attacked these remarks, saying, “Such an audacious agreement means utter blasphemy against the victims.”

The group urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to officially offer an apology himself for the victims to accept.

It also said the comfort women issue needed to be covered in the Japanese school curriculum and called on the government to carry out more research in a bid to search for the truth on behalf of the victims.

The same measures should be applied to other victims in the Asia-Pacific region by acknowledging the state’s responsibility, it added.