September 01, 2016 11:05
Six women forced into prostitution for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II on Wednesday rejected a compensation package from Japan that stops short of admitting official guilt.
The women, who live in a care facility for victims, say the money comes in the form of donations to support organizations or agencies rather than legal compensation.
A dozen victims earlier filed a suit against the government over the landmark agreement it signed with Japan last year, promising 1 billion yen. They filed the suit with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking W100 million in compensation each. The victims said the agreement violates a Constitutional Court ruling from August 2011 which said the Foreign Ministry's inaction in ensuring compensation for the victims is unconstitutional.
The government here has been walking on eggshells since there was no hope of extracting a full admission of guilt from the current rightwing government in Tokyo, and the halfway house seemed the best deal that could be achieved to resolve an impasse in relations.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government on Wednesday sent the money to Korea, a week after the Japanese cabinet approved the deal. Korea agreed in late December to accept an ambiguously worded apology and the 1 billion yen to establish a foundation here to support the former sex slaves.
The foundation will in turn pay W100 million to each of the 46 surviving victims and W20 million to the heirs of each of the 199 who have died (US$1=W1,115). Now only 40 remain alive, but the heirs of the six who have died of old age since the deal was struck will also receive the full amount.
Eighty percent of the 1 billion yen will be given in cash to the former sex slaves or their heirs, making the deal effectively a fig leaf for direct compensation. The remaining 20 percent will be used to fund various projects to help the survivors and cover overheads.
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