• Kyodo

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A university research institute has been commissioned by the South Korean government to build a comprehensive database of documents related to the “comfort women” issue, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday.

The request was made by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs in 2012, when Lee Myung-bak was president, the report said. It asked the Korean History Research Institute of Korea University to set up a database covering domestic and foreign official documents, news articles and records of the victims, among other items.

The term comfort women is Japan’s euphemism for the girls and women who were forced to work in Japan’s military brothels before and during World War II.

Work on the project has entered the final stage and the database is slated to go online in 2019. Once completed, it will mark the first time that records related to the women have been integrated into a database and disclosed to the public.

According to Yonhap, the research team has collected and surveyed some 80,000 items and extensively indexed them.

The database is expected to be used extensively in education and civic group activities, and will be keyword-searchable to make it easier to use, the report said.

A research professor at the institute who was involved in the project said he received help from domestic and foreign organizations as well as researchers involved in comfort women issues.

According to the current administration’s five-year policy blueprint released in July, a day to commemorate the comfort women will be established in 2018, a research center dedicated to the victims will open the following year, and a related history museum will be set up in 2020.

It is unclear how the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is positioning the database among those projects.

The issue has long been a source of diplomatic conflict between Tokyo and Seoul because many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula.

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