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South Korea comfort women continue protest despite Tokyo deal

Surviving comfort women are refusing the deal as they continue their weekly protests.

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea comfort women continue protest despite Tokyo deal
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a diplomatic report during the Ordinary Diet session of the House of Representatives in Tokyo, Japan on January 4. On Wednesday, he met with South Korean lawmakers. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said security cooperation should be strengthened between Seoul and Tokyo during a meeting with South Korean lawmakers. But another deal between the two governments regarding wartime sex slaves is being contested in South Korea.

Abe held a rare meeting in Tokyo with Seoul's ruling party lawmakers Wednesday, where the prime minister said North Korea's nuclear test was presenting a threat that "cannot be tolerated," and which he strongly condemns, Yonhap reported.

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During the discussions, Abe acknowledged the anti-South Korea rallies held in Japan are a "shame," and that the hate speech protests should be discussed in Japanese parliament.

The Japanese prime minister also made references to the December comfort women agreement between Seoul and Tokyo, and said he was glad the issue was "finally resolved."

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That sentiment, however, has not been shared among the surviving comfort women in South Korea.

During their weekly rally held outside the Japanese Embassy Wednesday, the survivors said they "don't need Japanese money," referring to the $8.3 million on offer for a restitution fund, Newsis reported.

Kim Bok-dong, a former comfort woman whose health has been failing, said the deal was unacceptable because neither government consulted her group. Kim said Abe should directly apologize to the women.

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Former comfort woman Lee Ok-sun chided Japan for "muffling" the voices of the victims, adding, "I am determined to receive a direct apology from Japan for dragging Korea's sons into the military, and abducting her daughters to wartime brothels."

The women also have been fighting a legal battle against a South Korean academic, Park Yu-ha, who authored a book on the Japanese wartime recruitment of the women.

The book states some of the women who were recruited later fell in love with Japanese soldiers or supported Japan's wartime efforts.

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A South Korea court ordered Park Wednesday to pay a total of nearly $75,000 in damages to nine surviving plaintiffs.

The women said the book had been a source of "mental pain" and the court stated Park had "departed from the limits of academic freedom" in her book.

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