Korea drops renegotiation plan for 'comfort women' deal

Jan 10, 2018, 00:33
Korea drops renegotiation plan for 'comfort women' deal

Japan and South Korea signed a crucial deal to close the issue of what is known as "comfort women" in 2015.

Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan's 1910-45 colonisation but the USA allies are central to efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

A South Korean investigation appointed by the government concluded last month that the dispute over the women could not be " fundamentally resolved" because the victims' demand for legal compensation had not been met.

The previous South Korean government reached a final and irreversible agreement with the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Dec 28, 2015 over the issue on "comfort women" victims.

In a news conference Tuesday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha revealed Seoul's position on the controversial sex slavery agreement.

She also urged Japan to "accept the truth in accordance with universally accepted standards" and continue efforts to help the survivors regain their dignity and heal their wounds.

Seoul has said that it will not seek to renegotiate the deal, but will plan to match the 1 billion yen (8.9 million US dollars) paid by the Japanese government under the deal, with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying that it will decide how to use Japan's payoff.

"President Moon Jae-in's apology for the secret deal by the dogmatic former Park Geun-hye administration and the foreign ministry's prompt measures are only for the victims and our citizens", Back Hye-ryun, the party's spokeswoman, said in a written press briefing.

"The steady implementation of this agreement is both countries' duty to the global community", Kono was quoted as telling a press briefing on the matter, following South Korea announcing its policy position. She added that what the victims want is a voluntary, honest apology.

South Korean activists estimate there may have been as many as 200,000 Korean women forced to work in the brothels.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that they will be holding bureau-level talks with Japan on January 8 to exchange opinions on the matter.

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.

But he has also vowed to "normalise" ties with Japan. Reportedly, the United States has indicated its "fatigue over history" when it came to the long-term question of cold relations between South Korea and Japan stemming from historical issues.

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