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South Korea and Japan have reached a landmark agreement to resolve a long disputed compensation package for Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II.

 Under the deal, Japan will finance a 1bn yen aid ($8.7m) fund for the elderly former s*x slaves, who were referred to as “comfort women” in wartime Japan, Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday.

“The comfort women issue… occurred with the involvement of the Japanese military… and the Japanese government acutely feels its responsibility,” Kishida told reporters after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-Se.  Kishida added that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed an “apology and repentance from the bottom of his heart” to the victims. 

Yun Byung-se said the agreement was “final and irreversible,” as long as Japan faithfully followed through with its promises.

The issue has long been a source of friction between Seoul and Tokyo, with South Korea previously accusing Japanese leaders of repeatedly failing to properly atone for wartime atrocities. 

Tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide s*x to Japanese soldiers. In South Korea, there are 46 such surviving former s*x slaves, mostly in their late 80s or early 90s.