from South Korea and Japan will meet on Sunday (Dec 27) to prepare for
talks between their foreign ministers to settle a row over wartime sex
slaves which has long strained relations.
The ministers will hold a one-day meeting in Seoul on Monday to
discuss the issue of "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese military
brothels during World War II, and other matters.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye has said settlement of the issue
remains the "greatest stumbling block" to friendlier ties.
When she met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Seoul last month
for a rare summit, they agreed to speed up talks on the issue. The
foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday is part of such efforts.
Up to 200,000 women are estimated to have been sexually enslaved by
Japan during the war, many of them Korean.
There are only 46 elderly Korean survivors.
Seoul is demanding a formal apology and compensation for the Korean
survivors, claiming a 1965 agreement has no relevance to the issue.
Japan issued a landmark 1993 statement that expressed "sincere
apologies and remorse" to the women "who suffered immeasurable pain and
incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women".
Mr Abe, who once added fuel to the row by questioning whether comfort
women were really "forced" against their will to serve Japanese
soldiers, says his government stands by the 1993 statement.
But Japan has long maintained that the dispute was settled in a 1965
normalisation agreement with South Korea, which saw Tokyo make a total
payment of US$800 million in grants or loans to its former colony.
In a fresh irritant ahead of the talks, Japanese news reports said
Seoul was reviewing the relocation of a statue symbolising the "comfort
women" at the request of Tokyo. The statue currently stands in front of
the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June Hyuck on Saturday
dismissed the reports as "preposterous".
交部发言人Cho June Hyuck，周六反驳
Other Japanese reports said Japan would offer the establishment of a
joint fund for the survivors as a way to settle the issue once and for
"Nothing has been determined yet but preposterous media reports keep
coming out of Japan", Mr Cho told journalists.
The reports were angering South Korean people and "raising a strong
question whether Japan is approaching the foreign ministers’ talks with
any sincerity", he said.
The Foreign Ministry said on its Facebook page that the statue in
question was set up by civilians and the government had no say over its
Before last month’s meeting in Seoul, Ms Park had rebuffed all
previous bilateral summit proposals, arguing that Tokyo had yet to
properly atone for its wartime past and 1910-1945 colonial rule.
At the senior officials’ talks on Sunday afternoon, Mr Lee Sang Deok,
the director-general of North-east Asian affairs at the Foreign
Ministry, will meet his Japanese counterpart Kimihiro Ishikane.
日的下午的高级官员会谈上，Lee Sang Deok先生，外交
The endless row over Japan’s wartime conduct has been a diplomatic
headache for the United States, which is seeking to strengthen security
cooperation with the two allies against nuclear-armed North Korea and
its ally China.
来源:The Straits Times