Japanese PM kicks off six-nation European tour in Estonia

Jan 13, 2018, 06:53
Japanese PM kicks off six-nation European tour in Estonia

Under the deal, South Korea promised not to raise the issue again and Japan transferred 1 billion yen (now $8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.

His remarks came after President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday also called the 2015 deal "unsatisfactory" and demanded Japan accept historical truth and offer a honest apology to the victims in a nationally televised press conference.

Top Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Japan "isn't thinking of moving even a millimetre on the deal", while Foreign Minister Taro Kono said any attempt to revise the deal would render bilateral ties "unmanageable".

He added that the two countries are now in consultations about an agreement on a tourist visa program that would include the right to work, a so-called working holiday agreement much in the way of the arrangement Estonia already has in place with Australia.

In his first public response to Mr Moon's comments, Mr Abe said yesterday: "Such unilateral demands that Japan take additional steps are absolutely unacceptable". Japan has strongly maintained that the 2015 deal was* an official apology, and that the issue has been settled by the landmark agreement.

Moon invited Abe to attend the PyeongChang Olympics to be held here next month, but he will reportedly not attend the opening ceremony in what could be a sign of Japan's unease over latest developments regarding the deal. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary later played down the report, saying it was not yet decided.

The issue of women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops in World War II has roiled relations between the neighbours - both of them U.S. allies and both threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea - for decades.

Global relations professor Kim Jae Chun of Sogang University warned that the difference in opinion over the comfort women deal could pose a major roadblock for Korea-Japan relations.

Abe said that Japan and Estonia have had a close relationship over the last few years, and that at this point some 100,000 Japanese tourists visit Estonia every year.

The deal prompted strong protests from some victims and their rights groups here.

Moon had lambasted the agreement on the campaign trail and was elected president in May after Park was impeached and jailed over a massive corruption scandal.

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