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Japan rejects South Korean call for extra steps over 'comfort women'
10 January 2018, 12:33 | Tara Lloyd
S. Korea to announce Tues. position on "comfort women" deal with Japan
In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono repeated his government's call for Seoul to uphold the pact, which he called "final and irreversible".
The new South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May previous year, reviewed the 2015 agreement as the victims protested against it, revealing secret deals with Japan.
Seoul's foreign ministry announced a set of measures that include desisting from seeking a renegotiation of the deal and from using the money that Tokyo has offered to support the former sex slaves under the deal.
But a refund "would amount to scrapping the agreement", a Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo said.
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.
South Korea's top negotiator on North Korea's nuclear issues will visit Washington this week to share assessments on the latest developments involving the North, the foreign ministry said Tuesday. "We don't plan to even discuss" how the funds will be handled, the official said.
South Korea failed to remove a statue commemorating comfort women from in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul after agreeing to "solve" that issue "in an appropriate manner".
South Korea has announced it would not seek renegotiation of terms of the landmark sex slavery deal with Japan in a sharp U-turn from its earlier position.
Under the deal reached on December 28, 2015, the neighbors agreed to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the comfort women issue. Seoul also supported a bid a year ago to add documents related to comfort women to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.
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. 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. This suspicion deepens the determination of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to give no ground on the 2015 deal. 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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