Kyoto: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak
urged Japan on Sunday to have the "courage" to compensate ageing
wartime sex slaves before it is too late and let the two
nations` relationship progress.
Lee told Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Japan`s ancient
capital of Kyoto that the issue had prevented their countries
from becoming "true partners" in the years since World War II.
Japan, which insists the issue was legally settled four
decades ago, promised only that it would "think carefully"
from a humanitarian standpoint, but stopped well short of
offering a fresh apology, officials said.
"South Korea and Japan should become real partners for
peace and stability in this region," the visiting South Korean
"And for that to happen, we need to have the courage to
resolve as a priority the issue of military comfort women,
which has been a stumbling block between our countries," Lee
Comfort women, a euphemism used to describe women forced
into sexual slavery by Japanese troops before and during World
War II, came to widespread notice in the early 1990s when
ageing victims went public.
A dwindling band of women have since vociferously
demanded recompense and an apology from Japan, which imposed a
brutal occupation on the Korean peninsula between 1910 and
Last week supporters held their 1,000th weekly protest
outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, unveiling a statue of a
young woman in traditional Korean dress who they said
represents the thousands of women forced to work in Japan`s