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S. Korea to create memorial day for wartime sex crime victims

All Headlines 14:01 July 19, 2017

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to establish a national memorial day to remember the country's "comfort women," victims of sex crimes committed by Japan during the second World War, according to a state policy blueprint announced Wednesday.

The government said it has approved a plan by the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee to designate an official remembrance day for the country's hundreds of thousands of women forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war.

It is expected to fall on Aug. 14, the anniversary of when Kim Hak-sun, a former comfort women, first publicly testified in 1991 about Japan operating an organized military brothel program during World War II. International Memorial Day for Comfort Women, introduced in 2013, also falls on Aug. 14, the eve of South Korea's Independence Day. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

The announcement is in line with President Moon Jae-in's pledge to review an agreement signed in December 2015 to end the feud over the comfort women issue, a long-standing point of contention between the two countries.

Under the deal calling for a "final and irreversible" end to the conflict, Japan agreed to provide 1 billion yen (US$8.84 million) to financially support the victims. The agreement forged under then-President Park Geun-hye was met with widespread public criticism, with many calling into question its legality and the sincerity of Japan's apology.

In May, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a telephone conversation that most South Korean people could not "emotionally" accept the deal, strongly hinting at a possible renegotiation.

The South Korean government also plans to launch an institute dedicated to research on Japan's wartime sex crimes by 2019 and build a museum to shed light on the atrocities by 2020. The Ministry of Gender and Equality will spearhead the projects.

In this file photo, a protester holds a sign opposing a 2015 Seoul-Tokyo deal to settle the issue of former Korean sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II at a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on March 22, 2017. (Yonhap)


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