Protests as S Korea opens ‘comfort women’ foundation
South Korean protestors clashed with police on Thursday as they tried to disrupt the opening in Seoul of a Tokyo-funded foundation for women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.
The plight of the so-called “comfort women” is a hugely emotional issue that has marred relations between Seoul and Japan for decades and which, for many South Koreans, symbolizes the abuses of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Last December, the two nations reached a “final and irreversible” agreement, under which Tokyo offered an apology and a one-billion yen ($8.5 million) to open the foundation for the dwindling number of comfort women who are still alive. But the deal was condemned by some of the women and South Korean activists, who took issue with Japan’s refusal to accept formal legal responsibility.
“You can’t silence the victims with money!” scores of protestors chanted at Thursday’s opening event, which they picketed with banners reading: “This is not what the comfort women want!”