Japan Apologizes For "Comfort Women" Sex Slave Legacy

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images.
A statue of a girl symbolizing the issue of 'comfort women' in front of the Japanese Embassy on December 28, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.
It's one of the many sad legacies of World War II: tens of thousands of women from across Asia were forced into brothels where they served for years as so-called "comfort women" — sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

Now, 70 years later, the few survivors who remain, are getting an apology and major financial support as part of a landmark deal between Japan and South Korea.

As part of the agreement announced Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is apologizing and committing 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a fund for survivors in South Korea, according to The Associated Press. South Korea agreed not to publicly criticize Japan over the "comfort women" legacy, and pledged to work to resolve issues surrounding a statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

The deal was seen as a serious and positive step in relations between Japan and South Korea, as the issue has been a major source of tension between the two countries for decades.

Many had hoped to see an agreement sooner, while victims could still bear witness to the breakthrough. Only 46 "comfort women" remain alive in South Korea today, as reported by the BBC.

"Nine died this year alone," South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in a statement, according to the BBC. "I hope the mental pains of the elderly comfort women will be eased."

But for some survivors, the settlement does little to ease the pain and trauma of what they endured.

"If I look back, we've lived a life deprived of our basic rights as human beings," 88-year-old Yoo Hee-nam told the BBC. "So I can't be fully satisfied."
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