South Korea, Japan to distribute ‘comfort women’ funds in installments

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Funds for South Korean “comfort women,” forced to serve in Japan’s military brothels during World War II, is to be distributed to the victims and their families in installments.

South Korea’s Reconciliation and Healing Foundation plans to distribute $9.9 million under a deal reached last December, The Korea Herald reported.

Each survivor is to receive $89,500 and surviving families a fifth of that amount, Seoul said Thursday.

But challenges remain over a bronze statue or monument to the comfort women that is currently located outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

The statue of a young Korean girl in traditional dress has become a symbol in South Korea of the victimization of young women who were forced into sexual servitude during the war.

On Wednesday during a meeting among foreign ministers in Tokyo, Japan’s top diplomat Fumio Kishida had specifically requested for the “proper resolution of the statue issue” during discussions with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se, Newsis reported.

Tokyo had raised the issue of the statue last December.

The plan to pay the money in installments may be tied to concerns in Tokyo that a lump sum payment may appear too much like the payment of reparations, a move opposed by more conservative citizens in Japan, according to the South Korean report.

Some exceptions may be made, however, for recipients facing special circumstances.

“The [$89,500] is not meant to be a ceiling but approximate scale – a survivor I’ve met said she wants to pay for her grandchild’s heart surgery, in which case the payment may be made in a lump sum provided, while others would want to take it as living expenses or for family support,” a South Korean official said Thursday.

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