Japan has apologized to South Korea and will pay about $8.3 million as compensation for its use of Korean “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War II.
The deal—which was announced after a meeting in Seoul on Monday between Fumio Kishida, the Japanese foreign minister, and Yun Byung-se, his South Korean counterpart—could go a long way toward improving relations between the two countries that have been strained for decades over Japan’s wartime occupation of the Korean Peninsula. After the meeting, and a formal apology from Kishida, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe telephoned Park Geun-hye, the South Korean president, to repeat the apology.
“Japan and South Korea are now entering a new era,” Abe said later. “We should not drag this problem into the next generation.”
Park, the South Korean president, said Monday that nine had died this year alone. Forty-six are still alive in South Korea.
“I hope the mental pains of the elderly comfort women will be eased,” she said after the agreement was announced.