South Korea unveils monument for wartime sex slaves

First 'comfort women' statue is installed in Taiwan as South Korea marks first memorial day for forced wartime prostitutes

South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, says the issue of World War II sex slavery can not be resolved diplomatically, in what appeared to reiterate his denial of the 2015 deal between Japan and the former South Korean government, under impeached President Park Geun-hye.

In South Korea, a new monument was unveiled as part of its first "Memorial Day for Japanese Forces' Comfort Women Victims", which threatens to exacerbate a sensitive diplomatic issue with Japan, South Korea's neighbor and a key ally of the United States in efforts to contain North Korea.

While he refrained from formally calling for the deal to be renegotiated - it was struck by his predecessor, Park Geun-hye - he said that "to resolve the comfort women issue, the Japanese Government, the perpetrator, should not say the matter is closed".

The Moon government, which came to power in May previous year, has taken the position that a 2015 agreement under which the two countries said they had "finally and irreversibly" settled the dispute can not put an end to the issue.

The bitterness over Japan's wartime actions comes as concern about North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles has posed a threat to both South Korea and Japan, both of which play host to USA military bases. Moon's remarks prompted a sharp rebuke from Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who described them as "extremely regrettable", Reuters reported.

Tuesday's commemorations were likely to cause anger in Japan, where demonstrations have previously taken place over existing monuments dedicated to comfort women, including one in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

South Korea past year enacted a law designating August 14 as a day to honor Korean comfort women, as on the same day in 1991 Kim Hak-soon became the first victim to give her testimony about the hardships the women faced.

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On Tuesday morning, over 50 activists joined a sit-in protest in front of Japan's de facto embassy in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, asking for a formal apology and demanding monetary compensation for Taiwanese who were forced to work in its wartime brothels.

"Japanese government should apologise", the crowd shouted, wearing black shirts with their faces covered by white masks. Both governments said the agreement would be the "final and irreversible resolution" to the issue, but recent polls suggest that a majority of South Koreans think that the deal was insufficient, the Diplomat reported. They also demanded compensation for Taiwan women forced to work in the brothels.

A bronze statue in recognition of Taiwanese comfort women was also unveiled in Tainan City (台南市) today, the first of its kind in Taiwan.

The ceremony, attended by former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition Kuomintang, was organized by a local group established to memorialize the history of comfort women.

Japan colonized the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945 and occupied parts of China before and after the war.

The protests come amid months of mounting pressure on Abe's conservative government to do more to acknowledge the comfort women.



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