SEOUL – An groundbreaking ceremony was held in Seoul on Wednesday at the place where a “Site of Remembrance” for former “comfort women” forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers in wartime brothels is to be built.
The memorial site will be built at the former residence of the Japanese governor-generals at Namsan Mountain in central Seoul by Aug. 15, which is Korean Independence Day commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule.
Civic groups, including the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, launched a committee to create the site in November last year and have since begun a fundraising campaign for that purpose.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon attended the ceremony. Park, from the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, is being mentioned as a possible contender for the presidential election set for December next year.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it has donated 40 million won (about $34,000), collected by its employees, for the construction of the site.
The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan has slammed a bilateral agreement reached between the governments of South Korea and Japan last December, saying it does not reflect the victims’ opinions.
Under the deal, Japan pledged to provide ¥1 billion ($9 million) for a new South Korean foundation aimed at helping aging former comfort women.
Critics of the deal, including victims, activists and opposition parties, have called on the Japanese government to admit legal responsibility for compensation.
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