SEOUL, July 27 (UPI) — Japan will provide $9.5 million to a fund compensating Korean “comfort women” of World War II, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday.
The August deposit to the Reconciliation and Healing foundation is meant to resolve a long-running diplomatic feud between the two countries. The mission of the foundation, scheduled to begin operations Thursday, is to restore dignity to up to 200,000 women, euphemistically called “comfort women,” enslaved in brothels serving Japanese soldiers, while the Korean peninsula was under Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945.
Japan’s acknowledgement of the practice was a diplomatic sticking point until December 2015, when an agreement was reached; Japan, eager for stronger ties with South Korea in the face of military threats from North Korea, apologized for all atrocities committed in Korea and agreed to funding the foundation.
Since 1945, a small number of Korean women have come forward to identify themselves as former “comfort women.” Forty women, confirmed as involved in the sexual servitude, remain alive in South Korea.
A matter remaining unsettled is a bronze statue honoring those enslaved, near the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Depicting a woman seated in a chair, its removal had been part of Japanese diplomatic demands, but was not mentioned in the December agreement. The South Korean government, noting it was commissioned and installed by Seoul civic groups, has said it has no plans to remove the statue.