On Wednesday, Japanese Foreign minister Taro Kono addressed the South Korean government’s recent statements regarding the “comfort women” deal the two countries reached two years ago, warning that any attempts to amend the agreement could complicate diplomatic relations between the two nations. The controversial 2015 settlement, which required Japan to pay more than $8.8 million dollars in compensation to so-called “comfort women” — thousands of Korean women and girls who were forced to work in wartime brothels — has recently come under scrutiny as a South Korean investigation concluded that the Japanese had failed to meet victim’s demands for compensation.
“If (South Korea) tries to revise the agreement that is already being implemented, that would make Japan’s ties with South Korea unmanageable and it would be unacceptable,” Kono said in an official response. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha apologized Wednesday for the deal, describing it as something that gave “wounds of the heart to the victims, their families, civil society that support them and all other people because the agreement failed to sufficiently reflect a victim-oriented approach, which is the universal standard in resolving human rights issues.”
The issue has been a longstanding point of contention between Japan and its neighbors, including China and North Korea. In 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Committee officially requested that Tokyo refrain from using the “comfort women” euphemism, calling for those who ended up as a part of practice to be officially acknowledged as “forced sex slaves.” The South Korean government revealed its plan to review the investigation and consult victim groups before translating it into policy.
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