UN chief meets with Japanese wartime sexual slavery

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) meets with Gil Won-ok, one of the victims who were drafted by Japan as so-called "comfort women" during the Second World War, at the UN headquarters in New York, March 11, 2016. [Xinhua]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday met with Gil Won-ok, one of the victims who were drafted by Japan as so-called "comfort women" during the Second World War, Ban's spokesman told reporters.

The meeting, which took place on Friday afternoon at UN Headquarters in New York, was requested and arranged by Yoon Mee-Hyang, co-chair and representative for the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, the spokesman said.

After the meeting, Ban said, "I share my sympathy with Ms. Gil Won-ok about the suffering and pain that she and other victims have experienced. It is crucial that the voices of victims and survivors are heard."

"I hope that the Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea on 28 December 2015 will be faithfully implemented under the guidance of human rights principles," he said.

"Once more, I call on all concerned parties to continue the dialogue towards a comprehensive resolution of this issue in line with human rights principles, with the victims at the centre," the secretary-general said.

Taken from her home at age 13, Gil Won-ok spent five years in Japanese military brothels in China. She did not want to recount the events of that day.

"To be able to receive an apology, that will allow us to close our eyes," she once said in Seoul, the Korean capital. "But I doubt that will happen easily."

The widely-used term "comfort women" is a euphemism used to describe the hundreds of thousands of girls -- including teenagers -- and women, largely from the Korean Peninsular, but also from other Asian nations, who were forcibly coerced into working in military brothels and serving members of the Imperial Japanese Army, during its brutal wartime occupation of the peninsular.

Tens of thousands of women aside from Koreans, from then occupied countries comprising women from China as well as the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia and those from the Netherlands and a contingent of Australian women, were also forced to service Japanese soldiers in wartime sex camps.

The Imperial Japanese Army also forced its own nationals to work in some of its military brothels.

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