S. Korean President lashes out at Japan over ‘comfort women’

SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae In described Japan's wartime use of "comfort women" as a "crime against humanity" yesterday, sparking an immediate protest from his key ally in containing North Korea.

Mr Moon said during a speech marking a national holiday commemorating Korean resistance to Japanese Occupation - his first since taking office last year - that Japan was in no position to declare the issue settled.

"To resolve the comfort women issue, the Japanese government, the perpetrator, should not say the matter is closed," Mr Moon said.

"The issue of a crime against humanity committed in time of war cannot be closed with just a word. A genuine resolution of unfortunate history is to remember it and learn a lesson from it."


Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described Mr Moon's comments as "extremely regrettable".

Mr Suga, speaking at a regular briefing, also urged cooperation between South Korea and Japan to tackle the threat posed by North Korea.

The two Koreas have pursued a thaw in relations that began ahead of last month's Winter Olympics, but Seoul remains a key part of the international push to increase pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan's colonisation of the peninsula and the use of"comfort women", Japan's euphemism for women forced to work in its war-time brothels.

Japan apologised to the women and provided a 1 billion yen (S$12.4 million) fund to help them under a 2015 deal, but South Korea has recently sought to revisit the issue. - REUTERS