Japan, South Korea about to agree on ‘comfort women’ issue, reveals memoir

SEOUL, Jan 30 ― A memoir of South Korea's previous president Lee Myung-bak reveals Japan and South Korea were about to agree on terms for settling the issue of “comfort women” serving Japanese troops before and during World War II.

The memoir, to be published Monday, says leaders of both countries were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) events in November 2012 to finalise the deal, Japan's Jiji Press news agency reported.

But the meeting never materialised because then Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower chamber of parliament in mid-November that year for a snap election the following month.

The unrealised deal was crafted after South Korean ambassador for press and cultural cooperation Lee Dong-kwan and Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito met in October 2012.

The deal would have called for Noda to send letters of apology to former comfort women in South Korea and pay compensation from government coffers.      

Japan and South Korea were “just one step away from the goal,” Lee recalled in the memoir. ― Bernama