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Japan asks S. Korea to block monument by former wartime sex slaves

All Headlines 11:41 September 28, 2011

By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- Japan has asked South Korea to block a plan of a group of elderly Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery to serve Japan's World War II soldiers to set up a "Peace Monument" near the Japanese embassy in Seoul, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, which represents the Korean victims and has staged rallies in front of the Japanese embassy on Wednesday of every week, plans to unveil the monument in December to mark its 1,000th demonstration.

The rallies are aimed at demanding the Japanese government apologize for and pay direct compensation to the victims, euphemistically called "comfort women."

"Japan's Foreign Ministry has asked us to prevent them from setting up the Peace Monument," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

However, it will be difficult for the South Korean government to block the move because setting up the monument does not require approval from the government, the official said.

South Korea has proposed talks with Japan on the issue of the Korean victims, following a ruling late last month by the Constitutional Court that it is unconstitutional for the Seoul government to make no specific effort to settle the issue with Tokyo. Japan has not responded to the proposal.

It is one of the most emotional issues that still remains unresolved between South Korea and Japan. The Korean Peninsula was under a brutal Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

Japan has acknowledged that its wartime military used sex slaves but refuses to directly compensate the victims individually, arguing that the issue was settled by a 1965 normalization treaty with South Korea.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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