South Korea marks first 'comfort women' day, seen drawing Japan's protest

An estimated 200,000 women were victims of sexual slavery in wartime brothels

An estimated 200,000 women were victims of sexual slavery in wartime brothels

The issue of comfort women victims, Jae-in said, cannot be resolved between Seoul and Tokyo through diplomatic solutions, but can be resolved when South Korea and the global community, including Japan, deeply repent over, and firmly commit to not repeating the sexual violence against women.

The comfort women issue remains a source of tension between Seoul and Tokyo.

They were joined by protesters in other Asian countries.

"It is quite regrettable to witness statutes of comfort woman being established or displayed in various parts of the world, which is incompatible with the position and measures taken by our government", the Japanese official said. In the Philippines, activists held rallies in Manila calling on the Japanese government to issue a formal apology to Filipino women enslaved by the Japanese army. According to experts, three quarters of the 200,000 or so comfort women died in captivity, and those who survived were likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder even 60 years after the war.

The 59 protestors who wore black shirts and white face masks, sat in silence for 8 minutes and 14 seconds, which is also today's date.

But Japan says it has already done its part.

The Moon government, which came to power in May past 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 country designated August 14 as the new national day for former South Korean sex slaves, who were forced or duped by the Imperial Japan into sex enslavement for Japan's military brothels before and during the Pacific War.

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In March, South Korean President Moon Jae-in described Japan's wartime use of comfort women as "crimes against humanity".

Moon said the issue involves "the entire world" and human rights of women as a whole, and pledged the South Korean government will respect the women as the main parties of the issue, and pursue commemorative projects to restore their honor and dignity including discovery, preservation and propagation of records. 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.

Moon's remarks on Tuesday seemed more tempered.

But South Korean President Moon Jae-in's administration has spotlighted the emotionally-charged issue and has called for Japan to do more, despite backing down in January from formally renegotiating the deal.

Japan has said the issue was resolved by a 2015 deal, struck by a previous, conservative South Korean administration, under which Japan apologised to the victims and provided 1 billion yen ($9.03 million) to a fund to support them.

In Japan, however, the national commemoration of comfort women has reportedly been seen as an affront in and of itself.

The ceremonies marking the first "Memorial Day for Japanese Forces' Comfort Women Victims" threaten to exacerbate a sensitive diplomatic issue with Japan.

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