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Abe slammed over slave deal remarks

By Agencies in Seoul | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-10 07:59

Agreement with Tokyo has caused public outrage in South Korea

South Korean opposition parties on Monday denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his comments on the agreement for the South Korean victims of Japan's wartime sex slavery.

Abe said in a TV program aired on Sunday that the South Korean side should show its sincerity, referring to the life-size statue installed in the southern South Korean port city of Busan to symbolize the "comfort women".

The "comfort women" is a euphemism for Korean women who were forced into sex enslavement for Japan's military brothels before and during the World War II.

The Japanese leader said Seoul should implement the "comfort women" agreement, indicating its call for the removal of the statue.

Abe slammed over slave deal remarks

The bronze statue of a seated girl in Korean traditional costume, which represents Korean teenagers raped by the Japanese troops during the devastating war, was put up outside the Japanese consulate in Busan on Dec 28. The move marked the anniversary of the "comfort women" agreement between Seoul and Tokyo.

In protest against the statue erection, Japan recalled its Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine in Seoul and its Consul-General Yasuhiro Morimoto in Busan, who returned home earlier in the day. They will stay in Japan for about a week.

"It is extremely regrettable that the girl statue was set," Nagamine told reporters ahead of his departure from Seoul on Monday morning, adding that he would discuss the issue with government officials, possibly including Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

'Humiliating money'

Regarding Abe's comments, Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of South Korea's biggest opposition Minjoo Party, told a party supreme council meeting that 1 billion yen ($8.6 million), which Japan offered to South Korea to care for surviving "comfort women" victims, was a humiliating money.

Under the agreement, Seoul agreed with Japan to the "final and irreversible" resolution on the sex slavery issue, causing public outrage at the agreement. Abe has yet to apologize for and acknowledge legal responsibility for the past atrocities.

Woo proposed the humiliating money to be returned back to Japan, condemning the South Korean government's diplomacy with Japan.

The lawmaker also criticized former United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon for his past praise of the "comfort women" agreement. Ban, whose second, five-year term ended last year, was scheduled to come back to South Korea on Thursday.

Representatives Chung Byung-kook of the Righteous Party, a splinter from the ruling Saenuri Party, told a party meeting that he was very disappointed with Abe's comments, urging Abe to make his sincere apology rather than being just satisfied with the 1 billion yen offered.

Chung said the placing of the girl statue in Busan is not an act of the South Korean government but of civilians, urging the Japanese leader to consider the behaviors of Japan's right-wing activists.

Mainstream historians said up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also other parts of Asia including China, were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the war.

The statue in Busan was initially removed by local authorities but after the Japanese defense minister paid homage at Yasukuni Shrine last month - a spot where senior convicted war criminals are honored - Seoul allowed activists to put the statue back up.

(China Daily 01/10/2017 page11)

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