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News Navigator: What's different with latest 'comfort women' fund?

The Japanese government has agreed with the South Korean government to provide 1 billion yen for a fund for former "comfort women." The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about the difference between the new fund and the Japanese government's prior payments for former comfort women.

    Question: What was the former fund paid by Japan?

    Answer: The Asian Women's Fund was based on the 1993 Kono Statement, which admitted the Imperial Japanese Army's involvement in the creation of comfort women facilities. The fund was established in 1995 by the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Through donations by the Japanese public, the fund was to pay 2 million yen each to former comfort women in countries including South Korea and the Philippines. The Japanese government was also to offer between 1.2 million yen and 3 million yen per former comfort woman in medical and welfare support.

    Q: How is the new fund different this time?

    A: The source of the funding is different. The Japanese government's stance is that under a 1965 agreement between Japan and South Korea, the issue of official compensation from Japan to South Korea for the comfort women issue is settled on an individual basis. To maintain consistency in its position, the Japanese government set the primary operator of the Asian Women's Fund as a private organization. However, this was strongly criticized by former comfort women supporters who said that the Japanese government was not admitting to its responsibility over the comfort women issue. This time the source for the fund is entirely from the Japanese national budget, in order to show objectively that the Japanese government recognizes its responsibility.

    Q: Is the new fund compensation money for the former comfort women?

    A: The Japanese government's stance is that it is "aid" for the former comfort women, and not legally-bound compensation payment.

    Q: How many former comfort women have accepted money from the support programs enacted so far?

    A: Out of the 238 former comfort women recognized by the South Korean government, 61, or about one-quarter, have accepted the money. It is believed that in many cases the former comfort women refused the payment as their support groups objected to the fund. The Asian Women's Fund was dissolved in 2007, but the Japanese government has continued "follow-up projects" since then to support the former comfort women, with 15 million yen allocated for such projects this fiscal year. (Answers by Koji Miki, Foreign News Department)

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