MFA welcomes resolution of 'comfort women'

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a statement on the outcome of the meeting between the Japanese and Republic of Korea foreign ministers on Dec 28.

An MFA spokesman said: "Singapore welcomes the efforts by the Governments of Japan and the ROK to resolve long-standing painful historical issues, including the plight of 'comfort women'.

"The resolution of these issues will help people in both countries move forward to build trust and reconciliation. This will not only benefit Japan and the ROK, but will also enhance regional peace, stability and cooperation," the statement added.

UN chief praises S Korea, Japan for settling 'comfort women' row

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the leaders of South Korea and Japan Monday for settling a dispute over "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War II.

Ban welcomed the agreement announced following talks between the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers in Seoul and expressed hope it will "contribute to improving the bilateral relationship."

"He appreciates President Park Geun-Hye of the Republic of Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for their leadership and vision for the betterment of the relationship between the two countries," said a statement from Ban's spokesman.

Under the agreement, Japan apologized and offered a one-billion yen (S$11.7 million) payment to the Korean women who were forced to work as sex slaves.

A former South Korean foreign minister, Ban stressed that countries in northeast Asia must build relationships "based on the recognition of history."

The fate of the 46 surviving "comfort women" is an emotional issue in South Korea, fueling much of the distrust that has marred relations with its former colonial ruler for decades.

Abe told reporters in Tokyo after speaking by phone with Park that the two countries "will welcome a new era."

Up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, are estimated to have been sexually enslaved by Japan during World War II.

Japan has long maintained that the dispute was settled in a 1965 agreement, which saw Tokyo establish diplomatic ties and make a payment of US$800 million in grants or loans to Korea, which it ruled from 1910-1945.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the one-billion-won payment was not compensation but aimed at restoring the women's dignity.


1. Under the terms of the agreement, the Japanese government will provide 1 billion yen (S$11.7 million) to a fund for compensating victims.

2. The South Korean government will establish a foundation to provide support for former comfort women. Japan's one-time contribution will provide funds for the foundation. Projects for recovering the honour and dignity and healing the psychological wounds of all former comfort women are to be carried out under the co-operation of both governments, the agreement says.

3. The Japanese government said the agreement means the comfort women issue is resolved finally and irreversibly, on the premise that the government will steadily implement the measures specified.

4. Both governments also agreed to refrain from accusing or criticising each other regarding the issue on the international stage, including at the United Nations.