TOKYO, Aug. 12 (UPI) — The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea agreed on how $9.9 million in funds would be used to help comfort women, former sex slaves forced to serve in wartime brothels during World War II.
During a phone call between Tokyo’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Seoul counterpart Yun Byung-se, the officials agreed the money should be allocated to medical and nursing care for the surviving victims, The Japan Times reported Friday.
“With the completion of the payment, the Japanese side will fulfill the responsibility of the agreement last year,” Kishida told Japanese reporters after the conversation.
Last December South Korea and Japan had reached a landmark agreement regarding the issue, and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice had said Washington “congratulates the governments of Japan and [South Korea] on reaching an agreement, which they have made clear ‘finally and irreversibly’ addresses the tragic treatment of ‘comfort women’ during World War II.”
But after Friday it remained unclear whether a comfort woman statue outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul would be removed in accordance with Tokyo’s request.
The December agreement indicated Seoul would “strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner.”
Yun said Friday South Korea plans to carry out its responsibilities regarding the statue, according to Kishida.
Japan is to provide funds to the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, founded in Seoul.
The Japanese government is wary of calling the funds reparations because it claims all compensation was included in the 1965 pact that normalized relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
There are currently 40 South Korean comfort women survivors.