Women’s rights activists supporting former sex slaves slammed on Jan. 17 the Asian Women’s Fund’s recent pledge to make payments to seven South Korean victims, saying it is hurting the relationship between the victims and their supporters, as well as dividing the sex slaves themselves.In a Tokyo news conference, Han Myeong-Sook, a research fellow at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, said many sex slaves and their supporters are furious about the payment, which was made known to the government, press and public only after the fact. On Jan. 11, the government-sponsored fund held a ceremony at a Seoul hotel, handing out documents guaranteeing the payment of 5 million yen each to seven “comfort women” from South Korea, who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. The fund has defended its decision not to publicize the ceremony, saying the aid recipients wanted it to be secret because of anticipated anger from the local support groups, who demand official and individual compensation from Japan.The women who have decided to receive the fund’s money and those opposed to the private fund are now arguing over the payment, Han said. “Because of the fund, we are experiencing things that we should not have to,” she said.Han expressed confidence that a local fundraising campaign, which started last October to match the Japanese fund’s 2 million yen “atonement money” to each of the women, will be able to provide sufficient financial support to the victims. Han works as an adviser of the fundraising body, which consists of dozens of civic groups. “This is not an issue money can solve,” she said. “(The payment) is a showing of arrogance by the Japanese and is an insult to Koreans,” she said.

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