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Foundation for former comfort women to be launched next week: source

All News 11:44 July 19, 2016

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- A foundation dedicated to helping South Korean women who were sexually abused by Japan during its colonial occupation period (1910-45) will be launched next week, an informed source said Tuesday.

In December, South Korea and Japan reached a landmark deal in which Tokyo apologized for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to provide 1 billion yen (US$9.6 million) for the creation of a foundation aimed at supporting the surviving victims, euphemistically called comfort women.

"Preparations have been made to launch the foundation in the middle of July, and the plan now is to officially launch it next week," the source close to the matter told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

An 11-member preparatory committee was formed in late May to spearhead the opening of the envisioned foundation, which originally should have started work around the end of June.

The committee has recently rented an office big enough to house about 30 staff members in western Seoul. It is likely to make an application for the launch of the foundation with the government in the days to come, another source said.

The money promised by Japan has not been handed over to the foundation yet. A government official declined to comment on it, saying that what is more important is whether both sides will faithfully carry out what was agreed upon in the December deal.

The deal reached on Dec. 28 has been hailed by the international community as a step in the right direction given that the comfort women issue has been a long-standing obstacle to ties between the two neighboring countries.

Victims and liberal civic groups have accused the government of striking a deal lacking Japan's acknowledgment of legal responsibility. They also said the agreement was reached without prior consultation with the victims.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during World War II. Forty South Korean victims, mostly in their late 80s, are currently known to be alive.


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