South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II held their 1,000 weekly protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul Wednesday.
The women, now mostly in their 80s and 90s, have continued to protest outside the embassy every Wednesday since January 1992, demanding an apology from Japan for coercing them into sexual slavery for Japanese troops.
A civic group erected a bronze monument, referred to as a peace statue, in front of the Japanese Embassy to mark the protest. Japanese officials asked South Korea to intervene and stop the group's monument plans, insisting that such a monument would harm the embassy's dignity and damage the countries' diplomatic relations, but their demands have not addressed.
Historians say that during World War II, about 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries were forced to work in Japanese military brothels. The comfort women issue has been a major hindrance to Japan-South Korea diplomatic relations for decades.
Japan, which ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910 to 1945, has acknowledged its wartime military's crimes against the women. But Japan claims that the problem was officially solved by a 1965 bilateral treaty. At the same time South Korea has continued to demand that Japan further resolve the issue.
The civic group that erected the symbolic monument announced plans to demand that President Lee Myung-bak address the comfort women issue during his forthcoming visit to Japan.