South Korea's top diplomat takes "comfort women" issueUpdated: 2014-03-05 20:51:10 (KST)
We begin this evening with Seoul's diplomatic efforts to address Japan's wartime sexual slavery issue.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se raised the unresolved matter of "comfort women" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier today.
For more on what he said, we bring our Hwang Sung-hee into the studio.
Sung-hee what can you tell us?
In his speech at the UN Human Rights Council session today, Minister Yun Byung-se stressed the need to stop sexual violence in armed conflicts around the globe.
He said there are violations that took place in the past in which the perpetrators have yet to repent and pointed to the so-called comfort women as living evidence.
Minister Yun said "Without repenting past wrongdoings, a brigher future will not be secured," which is of course a message to Japan.
An estimated 200-thousand women, mostly Korean, were used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in the early 20th century.
This is the first time since 2006 that Seoul's top diplomat is attending the UN Human Rights Council session and the first time ever that the comfort women issue is being raised, a sign that Seoul is serious about tackling the matter.
Korea and Japan relations are certainly at their lowest in years. Is it getting worse?
It's been a year since President Park Geun-hye took office, but she has yet to sit down for summit talks with her Japanese counterpart.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is notrious for his nationalistic stance and his tendency to glorify Japan's World War II history.
The comfort women issue has always been at the center of the diplomatic row.
Japan's latest denial of its wartime crimes was made by its vice education minister, who claimed the Japanese military's use of sex slaves is a fabricated story.
On top of that, Japan said last week it would review a landmark apology it issued in 1993 to the comfort women -- dubbed the Kono Statement -- after nationalist politicians in Japan called the women's accounts a "total lie."
Going back to Minister Yun's speech in Geneva did he also touch upon dire human rights conditions in the North?
Minister Yun talked about the UN's recent investigation into North Korea's human rights abuses, expressing hope that it will lead to practical steps for improving human rights conditions in the reclusive regime.
The South Korean diplomat called on all nations to stop the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees who have left their country in search of freedom and to ensure their safety.
Minister Yun also talked about war-separated families and wartime abductees, calling it one of the most serious humanitarian tragedies, and urged North Korea to cooperate in solving the issue and begin by holding reunions for such families on a regular basis.
Thank you for that report.
That was our Hwang Sung-hee, reporting live on Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se's address to the UN in Geneva.
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