S Korea to decide fate of Japan ‘comfort women’ fund next month


South Korea's gender equality minister said Wednesday that the government will early next month decide what to do with funds provided by Japan under a 2015 bilateral deal to support women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.

"Things will be fairly settled enough and (the government) will be able to make an announcement to the public around early November," Jin Sun Mee said at a luncheon with reporters.

Japan in 2016 transferred 1 billion yen (about $8.9 million) to a foundation set up by South Korea's previous government under the bilateral deal. The foundation has stopped functioning amid negative South Korean public sentiment toward the deal.

The administration of President Moon Jae In, which was launched in May 2017, views the 2015 deal as insufficient to settle the long-standing issue of former "comfort women" since it failed to reflect the opinions of survivors.

In July this year, the administration effectively froze the funds provided by Japan by approving a budget of a similar amount for the survivors.

Also Wednesday, the South Korean Foreign Ministry released a statement saying Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun is scheduled to visit Japan this week to meet his counterpart for discussions on ongoing issues between the two countries.

The ministry did not elaborate on what specific issues would be covered in the talks.

Ties remain strained over the comfort women issue as well as a pair of Seoul-controlled, Tokyo-claimed islets in the Sea of Japan.


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