N Korea wants part of any deal with Japan on 'comfort women'

Seoul - North Korea has insisted it should be included in any deal reached between South Korea and Japan over Korean "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Just days after Tokyo and Seoul agreed to work together to resolve the issue, which has dogged their ties for decades, Pyongyang signalled that it would seek a slice of any compensation deal that might emerge.

"There are victims of the sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army not only in the south of Korea but also in the north," a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the North's official KCNA news agency overnight Thursday.

"Japan should admit the state responsibility for all hideous crimes committed against the Korean people... and make reparations for them in such a manner as to be understandable to all Koreans," the spokesman said.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they would step up efforts to settle the "comfort women" issue when they met in Seoul on Monday for their first ever one-on-one summit.

Their statement offered no commitment by either side, and most observers say the prospect of substantial financial reparations by Tokyo are slim.

Japan maintains that the comfort women issue was settled in a 1965 normalisation agreement, which saw Tokyo make a total payment of $800 million in grants or loans to its former colony.

Mainstream historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, Indonesia and other Asian nations, were forced into sexual slavery during the war.

South Korea has 53 surviving comfort women. The number in North Korea is unknown.

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