CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Korean Church calls on Japan to atone for comfort women

SEOUL (UAN): A coalition made up of Catholic diocesan justice and peace committees, religious institutions and non-goernment organisiations in South Korea, has called on the Japanese government apologise for forcing Asian women—known as comfort women—to provide sexual services for its troops during World War II.
 
The National Catholic Action for Nullity of Korea-Japan Comfort Women Agreement and Just and Evangelical Settlement held a Mass in front of the Japanese embassy in downtown Seoul on March 1 and asked Tokyo to settle the matter in a just and fair manner.
 
The day marked the 99th anniversary of what in Korea is known as Samiljeol, or the March First Independence Movement Day, one of the earliest displays of Korean resistance to Japanese rule.
 
The Mass was concelebrated by Abbot Blasio Park Hyun-dong of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey and other priests including Father Paul Moon Kyu-hyun, a social advocat, and Jesuit Father Nakai Jun of Japan.
 
“Today is the day to recall the unsolved problems during Japanese colonial rule. We should look into the comfort women issue fairly,” Abbot Park said.
 
The abbot, who also is also the apostolic administrator of Tokwon in North Korea, criticised Tokyo for continuing to deny it ran a wartime policy of recruiting or enslaving comfort women despite evidence and testimony to the contrary.
 
“The Korea-Japan Comfort Women Agreement should be nullified because it was formulated in disregard to the views of victims,” he said, referring to a deal reached in December 2015 that offered some compensation but no apology.
 
At the end of his trip to South Korea in November 2014, Pope Francis met with seven comfort women at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul before attending a Mass calling for inter-Korean reconciliation.
 
The women staged weekly demonstrations in front of the Japanese embassy for years but few are alive today.
 
The coalition has vowed to press its demands by offering Masses every May 2 and August 14—a day named in tribute to the comfort women in South Korea.

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