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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japan refutes U.N. report over “comfort women” deal with S. Korea

TOKYO — A U.N. body has posted on its website Japan’s protest over its report urging Japan and South Korean to review their agreement over Korean women forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels, the Japanese government’s top spokesman said Wednesday.


“The Japanese government will strengthen our efforts to explain our stance (over the issue) to officials in charge of human rights issues, including the committee,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.


Japan is protesting a U.N. Committee against Torture report calling on Tokyo and Seoul to revise their 2015 agreement to settle the long-standing dispute over “comfort women.”


In its May 12 report, the committee said the agreement should be modified to “ensure that the surviving victims of sexual slavery during World War II are provided with redress, including the right to compensation and rehabilitation and the right to truth, reparation and assurances of non-repetitions.”


But the Japanese government maintains that “the review of the agreement makes it difficult to continue the ongoing medical and welfare projects and hinders the healing of the psychological wounds of the former comfort women.”


It also notes the deal was welcomed by former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the United States, and that the committee did not provide Japan with any opportunity to express its position, but issued a unilateral recommendation based largely on comments from civic groups.


With regard to the expression “sexual slavery,” Tokyo argues it contradicts the facts and is inappropriate, adding it was not used in the bilateral agreement.


Japan and South Korea struck the landmark deal to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the long-standing row over the matter.


In accordance with the agreement, Tokyo disbursed last year 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a South Korean fund providing support for former such women and their families.


But new South Korean President Moon Jae In repeatedly vowed during his election campaign to renegotiate the agreement.


In response to the U.N. committee report, the South Korean government has said it is “mindful” of the suggestion.

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