Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Japan rejects South Korean call for extra steps over 'comfort women'

Japan rejects South Korean call for extra steps over 'comfort women'

But South Korea expects Japan to continue efforts to help the former comfort women, she said, noting that they wish for a honest and voluntary apology.

Regarding the plan not to seek a renegotiation of the deal, Kang said "there is no denying the fact" that the agreement was an official one between the two governments.

The deal between Moon's predecessor, President Park Geun-hye, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe included a Japanese government apology and multimillion-dollar fund for survivors. However, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Kono stated on December 27 that South Korea-Japan relations will become impossible to manage if the South Korean government tries to "alter the agreement". "It's an worldwide and universal principle that such an accord should be implemented responsibly even after a change of government". The government will consult with Tokyo about how the Japanese fund should be spent.

But some of the victims have called for South Korea to return the money to Japan, prompting Seoul's announcement that it will contribute the same amount of money and discuss with Tokyo what to do with the Japanese contribution already made.

The two countries agreed that the settlement was "final and irreversible" as long as Japan faithfully followed through with its promises.

Sentiments about the issue are still running deep in both South Korea and Japan, the two crucial allies of the U.S. given the tension situation due to North Korea threats.

Whatever happens with the money, South Korea shows little sign of simply complying fully with the 2015 deal, despite Kang's assurance that no renegotiation was in order.

"Third, the 2015 agreement on the issue of the Japanese military wartime sex slavery victims can not be a genuine solution as it did not reflect the opinions of the elderly women". To Japan's chagrin, a similar statue went up in front of the consulate in Busan soon after.

But Moon's claim that the issue remains unresolved could still be a stumbling block.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said several times on January 4 that the agreement "will not move an inch", and deplored South Korea for "moving the goal post every time".

He suggested that Japan will file a protest through diplomatic channels in Tokyo and Seoul. Abe is leaning toward declining an invitation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, despite the potential for top-level talks between the countries.

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