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(LEAD) S. Korea urges Japan to honor 'comfort women' deal

All News 18:43 January 31, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with S. Korea's statement; CHANGES headline, slug)

SEOUL/TOKYO, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea warned Japan Sunday not to do anything undermining their agreement on Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry stressed it's a "undeniable historical fact" that Japan used coercion to recruit and mobilize the "comfort women" when Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule.

It was responding to reports that Japan has again stopped short of admitting to the forced nature of the Japanese military's wartime sex slavery of Asian women in a recent report to a U.N. organization.

In the formal document submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination, Japan said it has conducted a "full-scale fact-finding study on the comfort women issue since the early 1990s" but found no evidence of any coercion.

"Forceful taking away of comfort women by the military and government authorities could not be confirmed in any of the documents," it said.

It added to continued public doubts in South Korea about the Shinzo Abe administration's sincerity behind the Dec. 28 accord in which it offered an apology for the wartime atrocity. Japan also agreed to provide 1 billion yen ($8.29 million) to create a foundation for 46 surviving Korean victims.

South Korea called on Japan to refrain from any actions or statements that may mar the spirit and purpose of the agreement which the two sides described as "final and irreversible."

"The Japanese government will have to implement the deal unwaveringly and (we) would like to clearly point out that it's the basic spirit of the agreement this time," the ministry said.

Japan's report was sent ahead of the 63rd meeting of the committee set to be held from Feb. 15 to March 4 in Geneva.

It was apparently submitted following the latest deal between South Korea and Japan as it is mentioned in the report.

Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war.

The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed that there is no proof of the forced nature of the wartime sex slavery, but such a claim has been criticized by historians in Japan and elsewhere in the world as a "distortion of truth."

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