Photo/IllutrationSouth Korean President Moon Jae-in (Hajimu Takeda)

SEOUL--Five of the eight remaining directors of a foundation established following a landmark agreement between Japan and South Korea to provide support to former "comfort women" have resigned, throwing its future in doubt.

The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation was established following the December 2015 agreement to finally resolve the issue of women forced to provide sex to Japanese military personnel before and during World War II.

The resignations that came to light on Dec. 30 were likely heavily influenced by the release of a report on Dec. 27 by a task force looking into the process that led to the agreement. That report called the agreement unbalanced in part because the views of the former comfort women were not taken into consideration.

The activities of the foundation will not be immediately affected because it will likely take some time before the resignations are formally accepted. However, the symbolic damage to the agreement will be huge.

The foundation was set up by the South Korean government as part of the "final, irreversible resolution" of the comfort women issue. The foundation had been distributing funds to former comfort women and bereaved family members. Japan contributed 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to the foundation.

The foundation initially had 11 directors, but three had resigned in the wake of domestic criticism aimed at the agreement. One of those was Kim Tae-hyeon, the head of the foundation, who resigned in July.

The resignations of the five other directors were all submitted on Dec. 26, one day before the task force released its report. The five are university professors and others knowledgeable about Japan-South Korea relations. The three remaining directors are from the government or in some other manner connected to the foundation.

The foundation's regulations state that foundation operations require at least five directors present. To hold a directors' meeting to decide whether to accept the resignations of the five directors, the government will have to appoint two new directors.

"I tried to do my best working with the foundation on the belief it would contribute to improving South Korea-Japan relations, even amid the backlash within South Korea, but I made the judgment that my role had ended with the compilation of the task force assessment that described the agreement in negative terms," said one director who submitted a resignation.

South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family also released a report on Dec. 27, the same day the task force report was released, about foundation operations and pointed out problems until now, such as highlighting only the positive aspects of the agreement and comments encouraging the receipt of funds from the foundation.

"With the release of that report, I am worried that former comfort women and bereaved family members who have already accepted the funds will experience psychological pain over taking 'dirty money,' " another director said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to express his intentions in early January about how he will handle the 2015 bilateral agreement, including the future operations of the foundation.