WWII sex slaves tell their stories

Dec. 23, 2012 at 10:50 PM

SEOUL, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The accounts of 12 surviving Korean women of their experiences as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War II will be published, the Seoul government said.

The oral statements given by the women about their suffering during Japan's colonial rule of Korea will be issued in book form next month, a prime ministerial office investigation commission that looked into the wartime atrocities said Monday.

The publication of their statements, given over the years during the commission's fact-finding effort, would help preserve relevant evidence and create public awareness, Yonhap News Agency reported. The women, however, have asked their identities be withheld, the news agency said.

South Korean memories of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 are still raw, especially because of the sexual enslavement of so-called "comfort women" by the former Imperial Japanese Army, and continues to affect relations between the two countries.

The commission said its book will also include witness accounts about the tragic incidents, a list of lawsuits against the Japanese government and relevant chronologies.

Yonhap cited historians who say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery during the war and some of the survivors in their testimony have also asked for a formal apology and compensation from Japan in recent years.

Both the countries this month elected new leaders, with Park Geun-hye becoming South Korean president-elect and Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party taking over as Japanese prime minister. Experts and officials have said the leadership changes may present opportunities to improve bilateral ties.

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