SEOUL – Sixteen of the 21 surviving Korean former “comfort women” contacted by the South Korean government feel positively toward December’s agreement reached with Tokyo to create a fund for them, South Korean officials said Thursday.
Seoul has recognized 238 women as former “comfort women,” or females who were forced to provide sex for wartime Japanese soldiers. Of them, 46 remain alive.
The South Korean government has been able to reach only 21 of the 46, as the others live in facilities run by private-sector support groups, which are strongly opposed to the December agreement.
South Korea’s foreign ministry has talked with the women or their relatives. Of the 21 contacted, 18 live in South Korea and three live in China, officials said.
The officials added that those who were positive about the agreement cited remarks by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the joint news conference following the deal that “the Japanese government is painfully aware of its responsibilities.”
In the landmark deal, Tokyo agreed to pay ¥1 billion for a fund to be set up by Seoul, for “projects for recovering the honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds” of the women. South Korean sources said the money is likely to be used to provide medical assistance for the survivors, not to mourn for the women who have passed away, though the government has yet to decide how it’s going to use the money.