SEOUL, June 23 (Korea Bizwire) – The foreign ministry plans to launch a special team to look into the controversial agreement signed with Japan on its wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women, a ministry official said Friday.
The move is in line with President Moon Jae-in’s campaign pledge to review the agreement signed in December 2015 to end bilateral feuds over the imperial Japanese army’s forced mobilization of Korean women at front-line military brothels during World War II.
Under the deal designed to end the feud “irreversibly,” Japan provided 1 billion yen (US$9 million) to support South Korean victims, known as “comfort women.”
But Moon said the South Korean public doesn’t approve of the deal signed under the government of impeached former President Park Geun-hye.
“We plan to launch a task force inside the foreign ministry in relation with the comfort women agreement very soon,” the high-ranking ministry official said. “The team will look into the deal in a comprehensive manner.”
The key focus of the task force is likely to be whether the process of gathering input from the victims was duly taken before the deal’s signing, a point Moon has often mentioned.
It is also expected to look into how the agreement got to include the controversial expression that the deal will “resolve (the feud) definitively and irreversibly,” as well as a wording about a statue in Seoul symbolizing comfort women victims.
Procedures leading up to the signing would also be subject to the examination.
The result of its examination may define the Moon administration’s future stance on the comfort women agreement as the administration remains undecided over whether it should finally be revoked or respected.
Since the inauguration of Moon, the foreign ministry has said, “Both South Korea and Japan should make efforts to settle the deal in recognition of the reality that the majority of South Korean people and the victims don’t approve of the deal.”