Japan Rejects South Korea's Call For Extra Steps Over 'Comfort Women'
13 January, 2018, 01:47 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
The deal, however, prompted strong criticism from victims and civic groups who claim that Japan's apology was not honest enough and that the government did not consult with them in advance.
A day earlier, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Japan can not accept South Korea's new policy position on a deal struck in 2015 between the two countries over the "comfort women" issue.
"Our government will explore victims-centered measures by gathering opinions from the victims and related organizations", Kang said.
The two countries' foreign ministries struck a deal on December 28, 2015 to resolve the comfort women issue, which included an apology by the Japanese government and a 1 billion yen fund for the victims.
Seoul will use its own money to compensate victims of wartime sex slavery victims in Korea instead of using 1 billion yen Tokyo paid into a fund under a controversial 2015 deal.
Those opposed to the 2015 deal want Japan to take legal responsibility and provide due compensation.
Japan rejected South Korea's demand for more efforts to support the former comfort women. Seoul said on Tuesday, 9 January, that it would allocate funds from its own coffers to help Korean victims of Japan's bloody colonial past.
Describing it as the "official" agreement between the previous South Korean government and the Japanese government, he said, "Even if we don't find it sufficiently satisfactory, we must choose the best option available realistically".
SEOUL-Japan's "heartfelt apologies" will be needed to bring the long-standing "comfort women" issue to a "complete resolution", South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at his first news conference of the year on January 10.
A senior Japanese government official said the talks between the two Koreas only benefit Pyongyang and would not contribute to resolving the threats posed by the country's ballistic missile and nuclear development. "Japan must address the concerns of its Asian neighbors and the global community, and deal with them responsibly".
How the 1 billion yen raised by the Korean government to match the Japanese fund will be used is yet to be decided and will include consultations with the survivors and the Japanese government, according to a Korean Foreign Ministry official.
President Moon Jae-in has emphasized that the agreement is not accepted by the general public in Korea and called it "flawed".
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That created an opportunity for Moon to back out of the agreement, but at the risk of upending South Korea's relationship with Japan at a time when the countries are united in confronting North Korea over its weapons programs.
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