Responding to Japan's renewed denial of forcing Korean women into sex slavery during World War II, South Korea once again urged Japan Thursday to seek "satisfactory" solutions for the victims.
Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated earlier in the day that the newly launched Japanese government led by Shinzo Abe may review a 1993 statement issued by its then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the matter, saying it is "desirable for experts and historians to study" the issue, according to media reports.
The so-called "Kono statement," which acknowledged the forced recruitment of women into sexual servitude and apologized to the victims, has been considered a key element of the basis for relations between the two countries.
"The issue of the comfort women who suffered from Japan's imperial military should be resolved in accordance with the wish of the victims. It caused a tremendous amount of pain to them, and that is an undeniable historical fact," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters while answering a question about Seoul's stance on earlier remarks by the Japanese secretary.
"I call on Japan to remember such a fact and the indescribable suffering, and to find satisfactory solutions to meet their wishes," Cho said.
In August, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other senior officials made remarks that there is no documentary evidence showing Japan forced Korean women into sexual slavery during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery at front-line Japanese military brothels during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. Moreover, former sex slaves, who are euphemistically called "comfort women," have long testified to the hardships they were forced to endure.
South Korea has pressed Japan to provide compensation and extend a formal apology to the victims, but Tokyo refuses to do so, claiming all issues regarding its colonial rule were settled by a 1965 package compensation deal under which the two countries normalized their relations.
日여성들 단체로 "죄송합니다"
'한일 역사를 극복하고 우호를 추진하는 모임'( 한일우호추진모임)은 27일 서울 여의도 국회 앞에서 집회를 열고 "일본군 위안부 문 제를 진심으로 사죄한다"고 밝혔다.
한국인 남성과 결혼해 한국에 살고 있는 일본인 여성들의 모임인 이 단체는 "한 국에 살면서 일본 제국주의가 한국에 씻을 수 없는 상처를 안긴 역사적인 진실을 분 명히 알게 됐다"며 이같이 말했다.
이들은 "우리의 사죄가 과거 일본이 저지른 죄를 씻기에는 부족한 것을 알지만 '이렇게라도 하지 않으면'이라는 양심을 무시할 수 없었다"고 밝혔다.
이어 "우리 아이들에게 한국은 아버지의 나라, 일본은 어머니의 나라"라며 "한 일 양국이 아시아를 넘어 세계 평화를 만들어내는 동반자가 됐으면 좋겠다"고 강조
|The file photo shows women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the colonization of Korea surrounding the statue erected as a symbol of their suffering during the 1,000th rally outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Dec. 14. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)|