Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

South Korea closes Japan-funded foundation

Under 2015 agreement, Japan paid cash relief to victims of decades-long colonial Japanese rule

Riyaz ul Khaliq  | 05.07.2019 - Update : 05.07.2019
South Korea closes Japan-funded foundation


Bilateral relations between South Korea and Japan hit a new low on Friday when Seoul dissolved a Tokyo-funded foundation for rehabilitation of wartime "comfort women", according to Japanese media.

Under a bilateral agreement reached in 2015, Japan funded the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation based in Seoul. The foundation was meant for Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula in 1910-1945 .

Kyodo news agency reported that the South Korean government dissolved the foundation without consent from the Japanese government.

The move comes after Japan restricted exports of essential electronic items to the South Korean phone industry earlier this week, causing anger in Seoul which condemned the decision and is mulling international arbitration.

Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said Japan "can never accept" the dissolution of the group.

The 2015 agreement allows Japan to pay financial support to the former "comfort women" through the foundation. The application to dissolve the foundation was made last month, though its assets are yet to be liquidated.

The memories of Japanese rule were revived when a court in South Korea asked Japanese firms last October to pay compensation to wartime victims. Tokyo refused to accept the ruling saying, saying a 1965 bilateral pact ended any further deal on the issue.

Japan provided 1 billion yen ($9.27 million) to the foundation to help former comfort women and their families when Park Geun Hye was president of South Korea.

The decision saddened many in the country prompting incumbent Moon Jae-in administration to dissolve it.

Kyodo reported that 47 "comfort women" were still alive when the deal was reached four years ago.

Many victims and their kin have received payments from Tokyo. However, some surviving victims have refused to take the money.

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