OPPOSITION MPs in South Korea called yesterday for the scrapping of a deal with Japan concerning compensation for women forced into sex slavery.
The two countries agreed a year ago that Japan would pay £7 million to support 46 surviving “comfort women” — a euphemism for sex slaves taken by imperial Japan before and during World War II as its armies ravaged east Asia.
The parliamentary leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, Woo Sang Ho, said it would scrap the deal if the party wins presidential elections that could take place in a few months, pending the impeachment of corruption-tainted President Park Guen Hye.
And Kim Gyeong Rok, spokesman for the third-largest People’s Party, criticised Ms Park’s government for “selling away” the victims’ dignity and said the issue couldn’t be resolved without Japan offering a sincere apology and admitting legal responsibility.
Hundreds of protesters gathered round a statue of a girl symbolising South Korean sex slaves near Japan’s under-construction embassy in Seoul, calling for the agreement to be scrapped.
Under last year’s deal, South Korea agreed not to criticise Japan over the issue. Since WWII Japanese politicians have repeatedly downplayed its seriousness, only offering half-hearted apologies in 1993 and 2007.
An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by Japan, three quarters of whom died. Most of the rest were left infertile and severely traumatised by repeated rape and torture by Japanese soldiers.
China, whose citizens were also forced into sexual slavery, heavily criticised last year’s deal. Japan has yet to conclude similar deals with any other country.