|Lee Na-young, the head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance of the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Yonhap)|
A South Korean civic group working for the rights of elderly victims of wartime sexual slavery on Wednesday urged Japan's newly elected Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to officially apologize over the issue.
"The road to peace and mutual prosperity of South Korea and Japan can be paved when (the Japanese government) confronts the comfort women issue with sincerity," Lee Na-young, the head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, said during a weekly rally.
The rally was the group's 1,457th round of the protest that has taken place in front of the former Japanese Embassy site in central Seoul almost every Wednesday.
"(Suga) should come at least one step closer to resolving the issue," she added, criticizing the new prime minister's reportedly unchanged stance from Japan's former leader Shinzo Abe on the Seoul-Tokyo relationship.
Abe was known to have a hard-line stance on diplomatic issues with South Korea, arguing all issues between the two countries stemming from Japan's colonial rule were settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations. The relations between the two countries have largely faltered during Abe's term.
The council, meanwhile, condemned the prosecution's recent indictment of Rep. Youn Mee-hyang of the ruling Democratic Party (DP). Youn, the civic group's former leader, faces allegations of fraud and embezzlement of funds meant for the wartime victims.
It specifically called on the prosecution and local media not to become an "obstacle for history" when the country stands at an important crossroad regarding the post-Abe era.
Yoko Shiba, the head of the National Movement for Resolving the Issue of the Japanese Military Comfort Women who took part in the rally, also voiced support for the Korean civic group and Youn, calling the recent indictment "contrived."
The Wednesday rally was attended by a minimum number of group officials amid the new coronavirus woes. (Yonhap)