Breaking a taboo

A memorial hall for "comfort women" in South Korea © YNA

South Korea urges official apology from Japan to World War II forced prostitutes. Human rights activists also call for a reappraisal on today's first official day of remembrance for "comfort women".

South Korea has called for an official apology from Japan to Korean forced prostitutes of World War II. The aim is to "restore the dignity and honor of the victims," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on the first official commemoration of the "comfort women" this Tuesday, according to media reports. He hopes that this ie will not lead to a diplomatic conflict between Japan and South Korea.

Human rights activists also demand apology from Japan. The "dark past" is denied and not dealt with, criticizes the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). It is time to act, because "the aged survivors of these crimes against humanity have only a few years to live", says STP director Ulrich Delius.

It is estimated that around 200.000 affected

"Comfort women" is the euphemistic term for victims of forced prostitution by the Japanese military in East Asia. According to estimates around 200.000 girls and women had to make themselves available for Japanese soldiers in Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, East Timor and the Dutch Indies between 1937 and 1945, according to the STP.

Japan has denied for decades that the women were forced to perform sexual services for the soldiers and rejects any kind of official apology or compensation payments. In the future, South Korea wants to celebrate every year on 14. August commemorate the fate of the "comfort women". The 14. August 1945 was the last day of the Japanese occupation of South Korea, which ended on 15. August officially ended. Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945.

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