Baku. 28 December. REPORT.AZ/ The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan have reached a deal to resolve a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during the second world war, Report informs referring to the Russian RIA Novosti.
The Japanese foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, said in Seoul on Monday that his prime minister, Shinzo Abe, offered a “heartfelt” apology and that Tokyo would finance a £5.5m ($8.3m) aid fund for the elderly victims to be set up by South Korea.
The issue of former Korean sex slaves, euphemistically known as “comfort women”, is the biggest source of friction in ties between Seoul and Tokyo.
The neighbours are thriving democracies and trade partners but they have seen animosity rise since the 2012 inauguration of the hawkish Abe.
Japan appeared emboldened to make the overture after the first formal leaders’ meeting between the neighbours in more than three years in November, and after South Korean courts recently acquitted a Japanese reporter charged with defaming the country’s president. The courts also refused to review a complaint by a South Korean seeking individual compensation for Japan’s forceful mobilization of workers during colonial days.
Many South Koreans feel lingering bitterness from the legacy of Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945. But South Korean officials have also faced calls to improve ties with Japan, the world’s third biggest economy and a regional powerhouse, not least from US officials eager for a strong united front against a rising China and North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles that could target the American mainland.
Kishida and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, made the announcement after a closed door meeting at the South Korean foreign ministry in Seoul on Monday.