(Sex slaves statues) Japanese forced women into brothels

Local | 13 Jul 2017 8:57 pm

Kim Do Hee, a 22-year-old South Korean student, said he was impressed at the unexpected interest in the comfort women issue in Hong Kong. 

Lingering resentment over the matter has long bedeviled relations between Seoul and Tokyo, despite a 2015 agreement to settle it through cash payments for victims and South Korea agreeing to try to resolve a Japanese grievance over a statue of a girl representing victims in front of its Seoul embassy. 

"I used to think only Korea knows this and only we are upset about it,'' Kim said. "I definitely believe this should be politicized globally.'' 

Estimates by Japanese historians of the number of sex slaves range from 20,000 to 200,000. Initially, some were adult prostitutes or women from poor Japanese families, although later in the war, many non-Japanese, sometimes minors, were kidnapped or tricked into working in the brothels, some victims have said. 

Japan issued an apology in 1993 over the issue and a government investigation concluded many women were taken against their will and "lived in misery under a coercive atmosphere.'' 

A fund set up in 1995 paid nearly 5 billion yen (US$44 million) for medical and welfare projects for more than 280 of the women, including 61 South Koreans. 

Years of continuous pressure for apologies have soured initial sympathy for comfort women among many Japanese, who have grown weary of reminders of their country's wartime past. -AP

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