U.S. envoy to S. Korea urges Japan to address "comfort women" issue

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea on Thursday denounced Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II as "a grave human rights violation" and called on the Japanese government to properly address the issue, according to Yonhap News Agency.

"The 'comfort women' issue, or the sex slavery issue, is a grave human rights violation," Sung Kim was quoted as saying at a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists, in Seoul.

"We very much hope that the Japanese leadership addresses this important issue in a way that eases the pain of the victims," he said.

He said soured Seoul-Tokyo relations "are not only bad for the two countries but harm the U.S. interests and the peace and stability of the whole region."

Kim also said he agreed with remarks made by South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se on Wednesday at a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva, in which Yun slammed Japan over the issue of "comfort women."

Yun said the issue "is not only a bilateral issue between Japan and other victimized countries, but also it is a universal human rights issue, an unresolved issue still haunting us today."

He also criticized recent Japanese government moves to screen testimonies by former South Korean sex slaves that served as the basis of a Japanese government apology in 1993 over the issue, saying, "This is an added insult to the honor and dignity of the victims.