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Foundation for former sex slaves to be launched next week: sources

All News 17:11 July 24, 2016

SEOUL, July 24 (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, informed sources said Sunday.

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$9.4 million) for the creation of a foundation aimed at supporting the victims, euphemistically called comfort women.

The foundation will be officially launched Thursday, about seven months after the deal was reached, with the head of its preparatory committee Kim Tae-hyun as the chief.

The money promised by Japan has not been handed over to the foundation yet.

On Monday, South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se plans to meet with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, for the first time since the agreement was made, on the sidelines of an annual ASEAN event in Vientiane, Laos.

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.

Still, victims and liberal civic groups have accused the government of striking the 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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