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S. Korea urges Japan to resolve wartime sex slavery

SEOUL, Dec. 27 — Responding to Japan's renewed denial of forcing Korean women into sex slavery during World War II, South Korea once again urged Japan Thursday to seek "satisfactory" solutions for the victims.

Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated earlier in the day that the newly launched Japanese government led by Shinzo Abe may review a 1993 statement issued by its then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the matter, saying it is "desirable for experts and historians to study" the issue, according to media reports.

The so-called "Kono statement," which acknowledged the forced recruitment of women into sexual servitude and apologized to the victims, has been considered a key element of the basis for relations between the two countries.

"The issue of the comfort women who suffered from Japan's imperial military should be resolved in accordance with the wish of the victims. It caused a tremendous amount of pain to them, and that is an undeniable historical fact," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters while answering a question about Seoul's stance on earlier remarks by the Japanese secretary.

"I call on Japan to remember such a fact and the indescribable suffering, and to find satisfactory solutions to meet their wishes," Cho said.

In August, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other senior officials made remarks that there is no documentary evidence showing Japan forced Korean women into sexual slavery during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery at front-line Japanese military brothels during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

Moreover, former sex slaves, who are euphemistically called "comfort women," have long testified to the hardships they were forced to endure.

South Korea has pressed Japan to provide compensation and extend a formal apology to the victims, but Tokyo refuses to do so, claiming all issues regarding its colonial rule were settled by a 1965 package compensation deal under which the two countries normalized their relations. (PNA/Yonhap)

HBC/SSC

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