S Korea, Japan reach deal on wartime sex slaves, including Y1 bil aid fund
Japan Today -- Dec 28
The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan on Monday reached a deal meant to resolve a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II, an important breakthrough for the Northeast Asian powers.

The deal, which included an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a 1 billion yen aid fund from Tokyo for the elderly former sex slaves, could reverse decades of animosity and mistrust between the thriving democracies, trade partners and staunch U.S. allies.

"This marks the beginning of a new era of Japan-South Korea ties," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters at a news conference. Abe, he said, apologizes "from his heart" to the women for their pain and for "scars that are difficult to heal physically and mentally."

The issue of former Korean sex slaves, euphemistically known as "comfort women," has been the biggest recent source of friction between Seoul and Tokyo, especially since the hawkish Abe's 2012 inauguration.

Japan appeared emboldened to make the overture after the first formal leaders' meeting between the neighbors in 3 ½ years, in November, and after South Korean courts recently acquitted a Japanese reporter charged with defaming South Korea's president and refused to review a complaint by a South Korean seeking individual compensation for Japan's forceful mobilization of workers during colonial days.

Many South Koreans feel lingering bitterness over Japan's brutal colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. But South Korean officials have also faced calls to improve ties with Japan, the world's No. 3 economy and a regional powerhouse, not least from U.S. officials eager for a strong united front against a rising China and North Korea's pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles that could target the American mainland.

日本と韓国の間で最大の懸案になっている慰安婦問題の決着を目指し、年の瀬に急きょ、­行われた外相会談が28日午後に終わりました。日韓双方が歩み寄る形で明確な進展があ­りました。
News sources: Japan Today, ANNnewsCH
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