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Japan South Korea Reach Historic Deal on Wartime Comfort Women


SEOUL, South Korea — The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan on Monday reached a deal meant to resolve a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II, an important breakthrough for the Northeast Asian powers.

The deal, which included an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) aid fund from Tokyo for the elderly former sex slaves, could reverse decades of animosity and mistrust between the thriving democracies, trade partners and staunch U.S. allies.

Image:Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L), and South Koren counterpart Yun Byung-Se Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-Se shook hands during a press conference in Seoul on Monday. YONHAP / EPA

"This marks the beginning of a new era of Japan-South Korea ties," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters at a news conference. Abe, he said, apologizes "from his heart" to the women for their pain and for "scars that are difficult to heal physically and mentally."

Related: Abe Slammed in U.S. Over Comfort Women Issue

The issue of former Korean sex slaves, euphemistically known as "comfort women," has been the biggest recent source of friction between Seoul and Tokyo, especially since the hawkish Abe's 2012 inauguration.

Japan appeared emboldened to make the overture after the first formal leaders' meeting between the neighbors in 3 ½ years, in November, and after South Korean courts recently acquitted a Japanese reporter charged with defaming South Korea's president and refused to review a complaint by a South Korean seeking individual compensation for Japan's forceful mobilization of workers during colonial days.

Image: South Korean bereaved family members of victims of World War II Victims' family members rally in front of the foreign ministry in Seoul on Monday. Ahn Young-joon / AP

Many South Koreans feel lingering bitterness over Japan's brutal colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. But South Korean officials have also faced calls to improve ties with Japan, the world's No. 3 economy and a regional powerhouse, not least from U.S. officials eager for a strong united front against a rising China and North Korea's pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles that could target the American mainland.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said at a news conference that Seoul considers the agreement "final and irreversible," as long as Japan faithfully follows through with its promises.

Source Link : nbcnews.com
Date : 28-12-2015 04:14:21