Japan pledges to transfer comfort women fund swiftly: foreign ministry

August 12, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) — Japan’s foreign minister pledged Friday to “swiftly” transfer funds to assist South Korean victims of the country’s colonial-era sexual enslavement, the foreign ministry here said, as the two neighbors ironed out the final details of a deal aimed at ending the decades-old feud over this painful issue.

Seoul’s top diplomat Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida held telephone talks earlier in the day before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the Japanese decision.

“Foreign Minister Kishida remarked that the Japanese government has decided to disburse the 1 billion yen (US$9.9 million) fund that will come from its government budget as soon as domestic procedures following the deal in December are finalized,” the foreign ministry here said in a statement.

The latest development came amid a delay in Japan’s transfer of the billion yen fund which the country committed to pay in a landmark deal reached with South Korea on Dec. 28 to put an end to the diplomatic feud over the so-called comfort women issue.

Up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were enslaved in front-line brothels for the imperial Japanese troops during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula (1910-45). Currently, only 40 confirmed victims of the sexual servitude remain alive.

Japan maintains that all compensation for the colonial occupation was settled in the 1965 treaty which established diplomatic relations with South Korea, and said the money it is providing should not be seen as compensation but “healing money.”

Still, Tokyo conceded and promised to pay the fund to “heal the scars and restore the dignity” of the victims, which some analysts said is focused on mending bilateral relations in the face of North Korea’s worsening security threats.

“Kishida said (Japan) wants to muster efforts to open up new South Korea-Japan relations on the basis of the December agreement,” the statement noted.

“Both ministers reaffirmed the importance of faithfully implementing the agreement as soon as possible in order to help heal the victims’ scars and restore their honor and dignity,” the statement said, adding that they also agreed to cooperate closely on the matter.

As part of the implementation of the critical deal, South Korea launched a foundation late last month which is tasked with executing financial assistance and commemoration projects for the comfort women victims.

The foundation, however, has been unable to begin work because the two governments’ lingering rift over the statue of a girl in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul has caused a delay in Japan’s fund transfer.

Tokyo has called for the removal of the statue symbolizing comfort women. But Seoul has maintained that while it can suggest such a move to the civic groups that erected the statue, its has no authority to take unilateral action.

In working-level negotiations between the countries on Tuesday over the fund, the sides made “significant” progress, according to the foreign ministry.

This file photo shows a statue of a girl in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul which symbolizes the Korean women sexually enslaved at a young age by Japanese forces.

This file photo shows a statue of a girl in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul which symbolizes the Korean women sexually enslaved at a young age by Japanese forces.

During the nearly 30-minute phone conversation, Yun and Kishida also shared their concerns about North Korea’s recurring military provocations and ballistic missile launches, the foreign ministry said.

“The ministers vowed to continue to push various measures to retain and beef up the momentum for pressing and sanctioning North Korea,” according to the ministry.

They also agreed to collaborate closely toward the goal of maintaining trilateral cooperation also involving China while pushing to hold a summit meeting between the leaders of the three countries, it said.



  1. Candycgiz

    August 12, 2016 at 10:28 PM

    Time to put an effort together to build a long lasting relationship. Both sides has allowed a small group of people to put a distractions on what matters, healing and national security. There will always be these types of groups – Hopefully both country can move on from nationalistic irrational thinking and be a global citizen.

  2. Younghyun Kim

    August 13, 2016 at 3:06 AM

    As a weak world observer, this weak and mere low-educated world worldling thinks that your South Korea must reprove Japan for their constant distortion of history since your unbelievable neighboring country, Japan had been not only distorting history, but seriously defaming your Korea’s integrity. And no country can/must coax other country to let itself be content with doing the bare minimum to appease international criticism and another country.

    If so, it must be deeply critical of itself, who had, in my view had been trying to pacify/allay their neighboring country’s wrath on their undeniable falsehood. And never can money sooth down our korean people’s righteous rage against their neighboring country’s implacable and unforgivable behaviors, such as distortion of history, . . ., and their exigent/absurd territorial dispute related to your Korea’s integral territory, Dokdo Island and East Sea.

    Never must alla our korean people neglect to correct it. Good luck!

    2016. 08. 13. in Suwon and Seoul from Younghyun Kim