Seoul has consulted with Tokyo on "various practical ways" to resolve Japan's wartime sexual slavery issue, including what should be done with remaining balance of the around eight million U.S. dollars contributed by Japan to the 2015 'comfort women' deal.
Seoul's foreign minister Chung Eui-yong said this to lawmakers during a parliamentary audit on Thursday when asked if the four.eight million dollars left in the fund could be used for memorials for the victims.
South Korea has long stressed that the deal was a "political agreement" that did not consider the opinions of the victims or citizens, saying that the deal does not resolve the two countries' historical issue.
So far, over three.seven million dollars of the fund has been handed over to the victims, leaving around four.eight million dollars.
Chung noted that Japan has been strongly opposed to using the funds for anything other than being distributed to the victims.
He said the two countries are instead looking at other options, such as creating an 8 million dollar gender equality fund and sending that directly back to Japan or combining funds with the remaining assets from the now shut-down Reconciliation and Healing Foundation to commemorate the victims.
The foundation was a Japanese-funded program that supported the so-called comfort women.
This is the first time the South Korean government has given specifics about ways to deal with the aftermath of the 2015 Seoul-Tokyo deal.
After reviewing the agreement reached by the previous government, the Moon Jae-in administration decided to include the eight million dollars sent by Japan in the government budget.
And instead, around eight.seven million dollars was placed in an emergency fund for gender equality operated by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in 2018.
In November that year, South Korea shut down the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, and the ministry pledged to come up with a reasonable solution regarding the remaining assets as well as the gender equality fund.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.