The Korean and Japanese government have agreed to speed up their talks in order to resolve the conflict over the Japanese military’s forced prostitution of thousands of Korean and other women during World War II. The issue has strained diplomatic and economic relationships between the two countries as Korea felt Japan had not apologized sufficiently. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye discussed the issue at the first meeting between the countries in three years, also the first time the two leaders met since either of them took power. While historians disagree about the specifics, it is estimated that between 20,000 and 200,000 women in the 1930s and ‘40s were forced to work in Japanese military brothels. While Japan apologized for this in 1993, and set up a compensation fund from private donors, Abe has been less forthcoming — questioning whether the women were coerced, refusing to personally apologize and declining to offer compensation to surviving victims. While they did not announce a deadline, both leaders are expected to look for an agreement by the end of the year, with Ms. Park saying during the summit that “we should make this year, the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship, a turning point for advancing toward the future.”
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