South Korea to dissolve WWII Comfort Women fund – Women enraged

South Korea said Wednesday it will dissolve a foundation set up as a key pillar of a 2015 bilateral agreement with Japan to settle the issue of Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, in a move that could further strain bilateral ties.

 

The agreement, under which Japan provided 1 billion yen (about $8.8 million) to the foundation to help former ”comfort wome” and their families, has been unpopular in South Korea.

 

In Tokyo, reaction was swift, with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba summoning South Korean Ambassador Lee Su Hoon to the Foreign Ministry to lodge a protest.

 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stressing that Japan has done its part by following through on a bilateral agreement reached in December 2015 to ” finally and irreversibly”  settle the comfort women issue, said relationships between countries cannot be sustained unless international promises are kept.

 

South Korean President Moon Jae In’s government, which was inaugurated in May 2017, responded by saying it does not intend to scrap or renegotiate the 2015 agreement reached under the previous administration of President Park Geun Hye, despite it being an inadequate solution to the ”comfort women” issue.

 

In September, however, Moon told Abe that the foundation was not functioning as intended and suggested it may be discontinued. His government subsequently took steps to replace the Japanese fund with money from its own budget.

 

In announcing the foundation’s dissolution on Wednesday, South Korea’s Gender Equality and Family Ministry said it plans to take legal steps to dissolve the entity, expected to take at least six months to complete.

 

As for the 5.78 billion won ($5.1 million) left over from the Japanese fund, the ministry said it will come up with a reasonable way to spend it along with the 10.3 billion won it has allocated, after hearing the opinions of former comfort women and others.

 

South Korean civic groups and surviving victims welcomed Wednesday’s government decision, while saying this is only a start and the ultimate goal is to receive a sincere apology from the Japanese government.

 

Reference: Japan-funded “comfort women” foundation to be dissolved: S. Korea

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