Japanese-Korean accord on ‘comfort women’ must be speedily implemented, says UN official

Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura briefs the press. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

31 December 2015 – Commending the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea on their landmark agreement to resolve the longstanding issue of ‘comfort women,’ a senior United Nations human rights official today called for its speedy implementation to heal the still raw wound.

The agreement reportedly involves an official apology from Japan for the treatment of the women in the Second World War and a promised payment of $8.3 million for the victims.

“More than 70 years later, survivors and their families continue to live in shame, and their deep psychological wounds remain unhealed. This is why it is crucial that the authorities have been able to find a way forward beyond their differences, that places the needs of the survivors at the centre,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, said in a press release.

“For the former comfort women, acknowledgment that crimes took place with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, is one critical aspect of healing.

“The timely implementation of projects for recovering their honour and dignity and provisions of the necessary psychosocial support, is another. Therefore, I urge the respective authorities to implement this agreement as quickly as possible, in its letter and spirit.

“I believe that the adversity of this experience, but more importantly the common purpose and determination that now exists to move forward, places Japan and the Republic of Korea in a unique position to champion the agenda to eradicate conflict-related sexual violence worldwide. I urge both countries to take up the mantle of leadership.”

Welcoming the agreement earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the two countries to look to the future in their relationships while still recognizing history, stressing the importance of the countries in north-east Asia building “a future-oriented relationship, based on the recognition of history.”


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UN chief welcomes agreement between Japan and Republic of Korea on ‘comfort women’

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