Seoul: South Korea's foreign ministry
has set up a task force to deal with the issue of compensation
for Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japan's World
War II soldiers, an official said on Thursday.
The task force was formed as Japan has yet to respond to
South Korea's September 15 proposal to hold bilateral talks to
discuss the issue, following a ruling late last month by the
Constitutional Court that it's unconstitutional for Seoul to
make no specific effort to settle the issue with Tokyo.
"The task force, manned by diplomats who have
specialised in international laws and bilateral relations with
Japan, will seek ways to resolve the issue," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.
Japan, which ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from
1910-45, has acknowledged that its wartime military used sex
slaves, but refuses to directly compensate them individually,
arguing that the issue was settled by a 1965 normalization
Despite the Japanese claim, some South Korean officials
said that Seoul could ask Tokyo to directly compensate the
victims because Japan's wartime sexual slavery was regarded as
a "war crime against humanitarianism."
The issue of the former sex slaves, euphemistically
called "comfort women," is one of the most emotional issues
that still remains unresolved between South Korea and Japan.
According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly
Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line
Japanese brothels during World War II.
Japan's former wartime sexual enslavement is becoming an
increasingly urgent priority as most victims are elderly and
fear they may die before they receive compensation or an
apology from Japan.
First Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011, 23:08