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S. Korea hits back after Abe denies forced nature of sex slavery

All News 16:52 January 19, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea made clear Tuesday that Korean women were forced against their will to provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers during World War II, rebutting contrary claims by the Japanese prime minister.

South Korea and Japan reached a landmark deal last month to resolve the issue of the so-called comfort women through an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and payment of Japanese state-funded reparations to the South Korean victims.

Amid controversy over the agreement, Abe told a parliamentary meeting Monday that there is no evidence to prove the women were forcibly brought to Japan by its military during the war. Citing the government's position adopted in 2007, he said the military was involved in setting up "comfort stations" -- a euphemism for military brothels -- hygiene control and transportation of the women, but not in their actual recruitment. That was done by civilian pimps at the military's request, he added.

South Korea firmly refuted the claims.

"The forced nature of the Japanese military's mobilization of the comfort women is an undeniable historical fact and truth under any circumstance," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said during a press briefing.

That statement is backed up by various international reports and studies as well as the victims' testimonies, he said.

Asked whether the government has any intention to nullify the December agreement, the spokesman only noted the importance of faithfully carrying out its terms.

Under the deal, South Korea promised a final resolution of the issue if Japan fulfills its commitments.

"It would be good to refrain from an atmosphere or actions and words that undermine the fulfillment of the agreement, and it is important to create an environment in which it can be properly carried out," Cho said.

Seoul has delivered this position to Tokyo on numerous occasions, he added.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

hague@yna.co.kr
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