S. Korea urges Japan's quick solution of sex slave issue

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea called on Japan Tuesday to quickly resolve the issue of compensating old South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.

Up to 200,000 women, including many Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during the war when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony, according to historians.

"The Japanese government should resolve the issue as soon as possible in a way that the victims hope for and can be satisfied with," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.

"The Japanese government should face the music, offer a sincere apology to the victims and come up with a satisfactory solution," he said.

The South Korean government will continue efforts to induce Japan's cooperation over the war-time enslavement issue until all the victims are properly compensated, Cho added.

Many of the former sex slaves, euphemistically referred to as "comfort women," have filed compensation suits in Japan, but this marks the first time that such a lawsuit is filed in South Korea.

Earlier on Tuesday, twelve elderly South Korean women applied for a Seoul court's arbitration over their planned damage suit to be filed against the Japanese government's sexual enslavement during World War II. The damage suit demands 100 million (US$90,000) won be paid to each of the 12 sexual enslavement victims.

In the same briefing, the spokesman reiterated a warning to Japanese politicians' visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine planned for the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II on Aug. 15. The day marks South Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial rule.

"The shrine enshrines war criminals and is a facility that justifies Japan's war invasions ... the South Korean government and citizens cannot accept leading Japanese politicians to pay their respects at the Yasukuni shrine," Cho said.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>