SEOUL – A foundation proposed by South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang to pay consolation money to Koreans who worked for Japanese companies during the war is unlikely to cover the former “comfort women,” Yonhap news agency reported.
The scale of the foundation, initially planned at 300 billion won (about ¥27.7 billion), could rise above 1 trillion won (about ¥93 billion), the report said Sunday.
Moon proposed funding the foundation with voluntary contributions from Japanese and South Korean companies and citizens, and the 6 billion won remaining in the now-defunct foundation for compensating former comfort women that was set up with the Japanese government under a landmark 2015 agreement.
Moon is expected to submit a bill on forming the wartime labor foundation as early as next week, after consulting experts, lawmakers and plaintiffs in wartime labor lawsuits seeking compensation. Some lawyers for plaintiffs and support groups in South Korea oppose the idea, saying the speaker’s proposal does not include getting an apology from the Japanese government.
Moon’s proposal called for making payments from the foundation not only to wartime laborers but also to former comfort women, a Japanese euphemism for the women who provided sex, including those who did so against their will, to Japanese troops before and during World War II.
But support groups for former comfort women also criticized his proposal for not asking for an apology from Japan. At a meeting with the speaker on Wednesday, some South Korean lawmakers demanded that the former comfort women be excluded from the list of potential recipients.
In light of these opinions, Moon is now considering plans to exclude former comfort women from the list of recipients, Yonhap said.
The money left in the former comfort women foundation will unlikely be used to fund the newly proposed foundation for settling the wartime labor issue, the report said.