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Chief justice points out positive, negative aspects of sex slavery deal

All News 17:18 January 15, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Constitutional Court President Park Han-chul has pointed out both positive and negative aspects of a 2015 deal between Seoul and Tokyo over the issue of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of women, in a rare public commentary.

Park made the remarks in a contribution to a publication the court released in time for the launch of the Seoul-based Research Secretariat of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions early this month.

In the contribution, the chief justice said that the deal has been evaluated as an opportunity for the two neighboring states to look to the future beyond their historical animosities.

But he added that voices critical of the deal remain due to the lack of clarity over whether Japan recognized its legal responsibility for the colonial-era atrocities and offered a genuine apology for the misdeeds.

South Korea and Japan reached the landmark deal on Dec. 28, 2015, in which Tokyo agreed to provide 1 billion yen (US$8.62 million) for the creation of a foundation aimed at supporting the victims, euphemistically called comfort women.

Some of the victims have lambasted the government for reaching the deal without securing their full consent. Critics have also said the deal fails to highlight Tokyo's "legal" -- not moral -- responsibility for the sexual slavery.

Seoul, however, said that Tokyo's agreement to provide the funding for the foundation from its state coffers -- not from private donations as it did in the past -- means its acknowledgment of the legal responsibility.

In the contribution, Park also proposed setting up an Asian human rights tribunal based on an international treaty to deal with the cases of human rights violations that go beyond the national boundary like the comfort women issue.

Seoul has long claimed that the sexual slavery case must be viewed from a broader angle of wartime human rights violations rather than being limited to an issue between the two neighboring countries.


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