Japanese government rules out further action on comfort women agreement

Japanese government rules out further action on comfort women agreement

"Japan should accept the truth, make a heartfelt apology to victims".

South Korean President Moon Jae In has urged Japan to make a honest apology over the lingering issue of wartime sex slaves even as he conceded that a 2015 "final and irreversible" accord to end the dispute was not renegotiable.

He added that it had excluded the opinions of the victims.

They were euphemistically referred to as "comfort women". Under the agreement, Japan apologized to victims and provided 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to support them.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday at a regular press briefing Beijing's position on the issue of the victims has not changed, South Korean news service News 1 reported Wednesday.

The Korean Foreign Ministry launched a nine-member task force at the end of July comprised of foreign affairs officials and experts in Korea-Japan relations, global law and human rights. 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.

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The President's national address came a day after the Foreign Ministry announced that the government will not demand a renegotiation of the deal as it was an "undeniable fact" that both governments had endorsed it officially. Some call for renegotiating or even scrapping the deal. He further said the agreement was "unquestionably a crucial foundation [for bilateral relations] in Japan and South Korea's cooperation in several areas, including responding to the North Korean threat". In remarks that day, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said she "hope [d] to see Japan acknowledging the whole truth according to universal worldwide standards and continuing to work to restore the victims' reputations and dignity and heal their emotional wounds". But the Japanese government is considering not accepting the invitation. Observers in Japan concluded that while the two sides will try to avoid any dramatic confrontations due to the need for a joint response on the North Korea issue, a chill in the two sides' relations appears unavoidable for the time being.

Comfort women in China, Taiwan and the Philippines have been less vocal in demanding compensation and redress from the Japanese government than in South Korea, where the women are better organized and work with a coalition of activists.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in won an election previous year after promises on the campaign trail to renegotiate the deal.

Kyodo News said Seoul's plan to pay the victims with its own money is aimed at "watering down" the deal.

The agreement has been criticized in South Korea, where many people don't believe that Japan has fully made amends for its wartime legacy.

Seoul will also pursue a "future-oriented" relations with Tokyo, and discuss how its one billion yen contribution for the victims will be processed.

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