Seoul to fund operational costs for comfort women foundation

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Seoul, Aug 1 (IANS) The South Korean government will be funding the operational costs of the welfare foundation for “comfort women”, or the sexually enslaved victims of colonial Japan during the Second World War, officials said on Monday.

The funding of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation has been a bone of contention among the South Korean public ever since the foundation deal reached an agreement in the Korea-Japan ministerial summit of Foreign Affairs in December 2015, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“We accepted the request by the board of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation that the state cover the foundation’s managerial costs so that it can set aside the 1 billion yen ($9 million) compensation money from the Japanese government to be used entirely for the welfare budget for the victims,” an official of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said.

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The South Korean government’s funding plan for the comfort women foundation may lead to another round of controversy, with some critics demanding that the Japanese government be responsible for all the costs of its victims’ foundation.

Also remaining in question is the nature of the 1 billion yen compensation fund from Japan. Shortly after the December agreement, Japanese news outlets reported that the fund is not in fact a compensation fund, arousing another feud among South Koreans.

The South Korean officials vowed to use the compensation fund directly for the welfare of the comfort women victims, but the Japanese counterparts countered that the fund should be spent in “futuristic” ways.

Seoul officials expect that the agenda will be raised again in depth at the Korea-Japanese director general-level conference set to be held mid-August.

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