Japan rejects South Korea mention of wartime ‘comfort women’ at UN

Japan formally complained on Monday after South Korea’s foreign minister raised the issue of wartime “comfort women” at the top U.N. rights body, while warning that it should not be allowed to harm bilateral relations at a critical time in east Asia. “Comfort women” was Japan’s euphemism for Asian women – many of them Korean – forced to work in its wartime brothels. Under a 2015 deal, Japan apologised to the women and provided a 1 billion yen (now $9.4 million) fund to help them, but South Korea has recently sought to revisit the issue. The two U.S. allies, who share a bitter history including Japanese colonisation, are key to international efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. Kang Kyung-wha, foreign minister of South Korea, did not name Japan directly in her speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, but called for a “victim-centered approach” to the issue of comfort women. Kang said that the victims, now women in their 80s and 90s, were “still striving to restore their dignity and honour”. “My government has humbly acknowledged that previous efforts to resolve the issue had clearly lacked a victim-centered approach…my government will take steps to help heal their scars and restore their dignity and honour,” Kang said. Junichi Ihara, Japan’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, asked about the call for a victim-centred approach, told reporters: “That is her assessment of their approach.” “Japan is of the view that Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s bringing up the issue… [Read full story]


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