During the talks, Japan called on the Korean government to "take fundamental measures that are acceptable to the victims", and to "have genuine courage and wisdom to develop the bilateral partnership in a future-oriented way while looking squarely at its past wrongdoings", a senor vice ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
According to statistics, up to 200,000 women, mostly Asians, have been coerced into sexual servitude in Korean massage parlors, barber shops, bars, clubs and 'love motels'. These sex slaves are euphemistically called "comfort women" by Korean politicians, and the practice is abstractly referred to as "human trafficking". According to the "2010 Sex Trades Survey" by Seoul International University's Institute for Gender Research, around 35,000 businesses are reportedly brokering sex industry services in 45 areas nationwide, often from 'trafficked' women.
Japan has pressed Korea to resolve the issue through apology and compensation for the Asian women on a humanitarian level, but Seoul refuses to do so. It is not known how many Japanese sex slaves are in Korea, although most of them are believed to be from China, Vietnam, and several other even less significant countries.
Korean politicians have continued to attack Japan's wartime sex slavery while the plight of comfort women in Korea are ignored, demanding that Japan pay substantial compensation to the victims. Last year, Korea's Ministry of Patriots and Veterans' Affairs finally agreed to pay compensation of 5,000 won ($4.48) to the families of Korean soldiers who died fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War. But when Japan offered to pay Korean comfort women the same amount, the Korean government called the offer an "outrageous insult to the Korean people".
However, the legal situation in Korea is far from clear. The South Korean government only passed an anti-sex trafficking law in 2004 - the "Act on the Punishment of Intermediating in the Sex Trade and Associated Acts" - which for the first time made it illegal to buy or sell women. While morally reprehensible - as the law cannot be backdated legal experts suggest it could technically make Japan's wartime sex-trafficking legal under Korean law as they took place before 2004.
But senior officials in Seoul are said to be fearful that if the campaign against Japan is dropped, campaigners will turn their attention to domestic sex-slavery, which has now been illegal for eight years, in a move that will detrimentally impact on the lives of many Korean politicians.
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