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Sunday, March 29, 1998 Published at 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK



Despatches

Korean comfort women compensated
image: [ Japanese troops on parade; critics say Japan has not yet come to terms with its past ]
Japanese troops on parade; critics say Japan has not yet come to terms with its past

The South Korean government has decided to give compensation to women who were forced to act as sex slaves when the country was a Japanese colony. The decision, which is expected to be endorsed by the cabinet early in April, keeps up pressure on Japan to apologise formally and give official compensation to the women. Andrew Wood reports from Seoul:

It is more than 50 years since Korea was liberated from decades of Japanese colonial rule, but the issue of "comfort women" is still a current one.

Historians estimate up 200,000 women, among them Chinese, Indonesian, Dutch and Filipinas as well as Koreans, were forced to serve in Japanese military brothels.

The decision by the South Korean government over the weekend should give around a 150 surviving victims compensation of $25,000 each. Cabinet approval is expected soon.

Taiwan's government recently made a similar offer to surviving comfort women there.

The idea is that South Korea will claim the money back from Japan at some point in the future. However the Japanese government has said it will agree to no such thing.

It said in the past the issue was settled in the 1960s by a treaty on post-war compensation between Japan and South Korea. No talks on the subject are scheduled.

However two years ago a private fund was set up in Japan which offered a lump sum of $17,000.

Most surviving Korean comfort women rejected it, saying they wanted any compensation and apologies to come directly from the Japanese government.






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