S Korea, Japan to discuss wartime Korean sex slaves
Dec 28, Seoul: The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan will meet Monday to try to resolve a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II.
Other issues to discuss are former Korean sex slaves, euphemistically known as "comfort women."
The biggest source of friction in ties between Seoul and Tokyo, two thriving democracies, trade partners and staunch U.S. allies who have seen animosity rise since the 2012 inauguration of hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, media reports said.
Japanese media reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida plans to deliver a handwritten apology by Abe when he meets with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se. An unidentified diplomatic source says Tokyo may also offer more than 100 million yen ($830,000) for the women, but Seoul wants at least 1 billion yen, Kyodo news agency reported.
Some in South Korea feel that Seoul would struggle to agree to anything that doesn't also acknowledge that Japan has a legal responsibility for the women. Japan, for its part, has long argued that the issue was settled by a 1965 treaty that restored diplomatic ties and was accompanied by more than $800 million in economic aid and loans from Tokyo to Seoul.
Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to
Japanese soldiers. In South Korea, there are 46 such surviving former sex slaves, mostly in their late 80s or early 90s.
Better relations between South Korea and Japan are a priority for Washington. The two Northeast Asian countries together host about 80,000 U.S. troops and are members of now-stalled regional talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions in return for aid.
The Oslo Times