South Korea’s deputy-chief envoy to the United Nations asked the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee to intervene on its behalf in demanding that Japan take legal responsibility for enslaving 200,000 Korean women during World War II. These “comfort women” were forced to act as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers during the war. The envoy told the committee that Japanese soldiers were guilty of war crimes for the systematic rapes.
The government of Japan did have a representative at the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee who responded to South Korea’s complaint. While the Japanese envoy acknowledged the abduction and rape of the women during WWII, he claimed that the issue was settled in 1965 when Japan paid South Korea a $300 million settlement.
Survivors have continued to press their government for more action and have staged regular protests at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. This December will mark the 1,000th such protest.
In addition to seeking support from the United Nations, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will address the issue in an upcoming summit with Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda.
Compiled from: Glionna, John, South Korea Presses Japan at U.N. Over ‘Comfort Women’, Los Angeles Times (12 October 2011).