South Korea's government supports civic group-led efforts to list documents related to Japan's wartime sexual slavery of women as a "Memory of the World" listing of UNESCO, a foreign ministry official said Friday, adding that it will make possible diplomatic efforts for the matter to be "fairly" discussed by the UN body.
Earlier, NHK reported that the decision will be made by the International Advisory Committee after completing its four-day closed-door session that started in Paris on Tuesday. It cited an anonymous source close to the committee.
The IAC comprised of private-sector experts makes recommendations to the chief of UNESCO, who has a final say. It is said to be almost unprecedented for the committee to come out with a holding-off decision.
"Our government's stance has been consistent that lessons should be learned from the comfort women issue and efforts should be continuously made to let future generations know the truth," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
"In this regard, all possible diplomatic efforts will be made for the comfort women-related documents to be fairly discussed according to relevant UNESCO procedures," he added.
In May 2016, 15 civic groups from 8 countries, including South Korea and China, made an official request for the UNESCO listing of documents related to women, mostly Koreans, forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II. The victims are euphemistically called "comfort women."
They include around 27,000 kinds of documents, including court records and materials given by victims.
Though it has not been officially involved, the Seoul government has supported the civic group-led push for the listing, saying that lessons should be learned from the dark history and that efforts should also be made to let future generations know more accurately about historical facts.
The Japanese have protested, in particular, with the government here that pushing for a UNESCO listing of such documents might run counter to the spirit of a controversial deal reached between the two countries to address grievances on wartime atrocities committed by Japan.
In December 2015, the two reached the deal under which they agreed to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the comfort women issue. Tokyo gave an apology for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to contribute 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.
Historians said more than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude in front-line Japanese brothels during World War II, when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.
Saying that the deal lacks a public consensus, the Moon Jae-in government is currently reviewing the process by which it was reached under the previous administration, hinting that it could be scrapped or revised. Japan says that both countries have to faithfully enforce what was agreed upon by their governments. (Yonhap)