'Comfort women' mark 900th weekly protest against Japan

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 13 2010 04:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2010 12:48 AM

SEOUL - Braving bitter cold, South Korean former wartime sex slaves and their supporters Wednesday marked another milestone in a 17-year campaign for compensation and an official apology from Japan.

"Compensate!" shouted four elderly blanket-swathed women and about 100 supporters as they staged the 900th weekly protest outside the Japanese embassy in the South Korean capital.

Supporters ranging from students to elderly women held placards reading "900," "Dignity and human rights restoration" and other messages. The protests began in 1992.

"2010 is the 100th year since Korea was annexed by Japan. And the history of these old women still remains unsolved," said Yoon Mee-Hyang, head of a group pressing the demands of the so-called "comfort women."

"The Japanese government should be ashamed. So should the Korean government," Yoon said. Protesters say the Seoul government has refused to take up their demands.

"There should not be a 1000th weekly protest," shouted rally leader Kang Joo-Hye.

Before and during World War II, about 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries were drafted to work as sex slaves for the Japanese military.

Japan has apologized for the military's involvement in crimes against the women, but denies responsibility for running a system of military brothels before its surrender in 1945.

The US and Canadian parliaments in 2007 called for a fresh apology from Japan for forcing women into sexual slavery.

Human rights organizations including Amnesty International attended Wednesday's rally.