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SEOUL -- The Republic of Korea (ROK)"s top diplomat said Tuesday that the country will set aside its own funds to support the victims of Japan"s wartime sex slavery, reiterating Seoul"s stance that the 2015 agreement with Japan can not resolve the wartime crime against humanity.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a nationally televised press conference that the 2015 agreement, which failed to reflect opinions of the victims, can not become a real resolution to the comfort women issue.
Kang, however, noted that her country will not demand renegotiation with the Japanese government over the deal as the 2015 agreement was an official deal between the governments of the two countries.
The previous ROK government reached a final and irreversible agreement with the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Dec 28, 2015 over the issue on comfort women victims.
In return for it, Japan offered 1 billion yen (about 9 million US dollars) to a foundation supporting the victims who were kidnapped, coerced or duped into sex servitude for the Japanese military brothels during World War II.
Historians say up to 200,000 girls and young women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, served as sex slaves for the Imperial Japan. The peninsula was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945.
Kang expressed her anticipation that Japan should face up to the wartime history according to international standard and continue efforts to cure the scar and restore the dignity of the victims, saying what the victims have demanded is Japan"s voluntary and sincere apology.
Kang said the 1 billion yen, which Japan provided, will be covered by ROK"s budget, noting that ROK will negotiate with Japan about how to deal with the money.
The new ROK government under President Moon Jae-in who took office in May last year, reviewed the 2015 agreement as the victims protested against it, revealing secret deals with Japan.
Under the secret deals, which were not made known to the general public as well as the victims, Seoul accepted Tokyo"s demand for persuading the victims to accept the deal and not using the expression of "sexual slavery."
Following the review result announcement, President Moon said the 2015 deal cannot resolve the comfort women issue.
The victims demanded the Japanese government"s sincere apology and legal responsibility for the wartime sexual enslavement, declining to receive the funds from Japan.