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S. Korea to put priority on healing victims of Japan's sexual enslavement

All Headlines 16:26 October 04, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will place top priority on restoring the dignity of Japan's wartime sex slaves, a foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday, in reaction to the Japanese prime minister's refusal to send apology letters to the victims.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a diet budgetary committee on Monday that he "is not considering at all" sending letters of apology to the so-called comfort women who were forced to provide sexual services to the imperial Japanese military forces during World War II.

The remarks were in response to growing calls in South Korea and Japan for an official apology from the top leader in addition to the financial assistance Japan has provided to the women.

On Dec. 28, the two countries reached a landmark accord to end deep-rooted diplomatic feuds over the issue, in which Japan injected 1 billion yen (US$9.8 million) to a South Korean foundation devoted to supporting the victims.

"Increasing domestic acceptance of the Dec. 28 agreement is important and completely healing the victims' scars and recovering their honor and dignity are also important. For this reason, the government will continue cooperation with the Japanese side to achieve these goals as soon as possible," Cho June-hyuck, spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a regular briefing.

Cho said such efforts will be made within the framework of the bilateral agreement's spirit and object.

Asked to respond to the Japanese leader's remarks, however, the spokesman said he will "refrain from commenting on Prime Minister Abe's specific wording."

The spokesman said last week that the South Korean government "expects the Japanese side to take additional emotional measures to console the victims' wounds," alluding to Seoul's call for a top-level Japanese apology to the women.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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