Top United Nations Official Asks Japan’s Shinzo Abe to Meet ‘Comfort Women’

kpopluv, June 25, 2015, 9:39 a.m.

A top United Nations official advised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Thursday to meet "comfort women" in person to understand their sincerity in demanding a formal apology and proper reparations. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein stressed that the victims of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement for its troops can only say "enough is enough."

"I find it terribly sad that, despite some significant steps taken by Japan over the years, the victims of this terrible crime do not feel their suffering has been adequately and universally recognized," he said at a press conference here. "In the final analysis, it is only the victims who can decide whether enough has been done."

He met with three elderly Korean women who were coerced into sexual servitude by Japanese troops during World War II. Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-45. Relations between South Korea and Japan have long been dogged by disputes over the issue.

Seoul is pressing Tokyo to address the matter. Japan claims its legal responsibility was already settled in a 1965 deal to normalize bilateral diplomatic ties. Abe has yet to offer a clear apology for the tragic history in his own words. The U.N. official said Abe needs to meet the victims himself.

"Nothing is greater than human contact," he said, adding that the prime minister can sit down with them to "communicate their feelings."  If that is the case, he said, "I firmly believe and hope that a satisfactory solution can be found."

On the human rights situation in North Korea, a new U.N. office in Seoul will play a key role in efforts to deal with the problem, said Zeid. He attended the opening ceremony Wednesday for the field office designed to monitor human rights conditions in the secretive communist nation.

"While none of us expects a new U.N. human rights office will dramatically alter that situation overnight, we do all feel, I think, that it is a significant step: a breakthrough that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago," he said. He also emphasized the importance of continuing efforts to engage North Korea.

The purpose of the U.N. office is "not just to monitor, report and criticize -- though it will do all of those. It is also to engage with a civil society, with refugees and defectors and with governments of the region," he added, "We will also keep our channels open to the authorities in the DPRK (North Korea) itself."

 In stark contrast to the North, he noted, South Korea is a model for successful democratization and economic growth. But it has some challenges like many other democracies in the world, he said, citing the anti-communist law, enacted in 1948, and reports of limitations imposed on freedom of expression online as an example. Zeid is scheduled to wrap up his three-day stay here on Friday.

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