South Korea will not seek renegotiation of 'comfort women' deal with Japan

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Under the deal announced by the foreign ministers of the two countries in 2015, Japan paid ¥1 billion to a South Korean foundation to support Korean victims, while South Korea agreed to "make efforts" to remove a statue symbolizing comfort women that now stands in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

"It can not be denied that the 2015 deal was an official agreement reached between the governments of each country, and our government will not demand renegotiation", Kang said at a press conference, as quoted by the Yonhap News Agency.

The pact was reached by the administration of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, predecessor to current President Moon Jae-in.

In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono repeated his government's call for Seoul to uphold the pact, which he called "final and irreversible". "It's an worldwide and universal principle that such an accord should be implemented responsibly even after a change of government".

Statues erected to pay honor to these "comfort women" draw the ire of the Japanese government, the right wing forces of which have been trying ardently to whitewash its war time atrocities.

While allocating its state budget for covering the ¥1 billion contribution from the Japanese government, South Korea aims to discuss with Japan about what to do with the Japanese assistance, she said.

Close												Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono takes questions from reporters in Tokyo on Jan. 9
Close Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono takes questions from reporters in Tokyo on Jan. 9

But a refund "would amount to scrapping the agreement", a Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo said.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said earlier North Korea accepted Seoul's offer to hold talks on how to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics and how to improve overall ties. "We don't plan to even discuss" how the funds will be handled, the official said.

South Korea "will urge the Japanese government to take responsible measures over the defective "comfort women" deal in line with the spirit of seriousness and cosmopolitanism", the source was quoted as saying.

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.

Last month, a South Korean government task force concluded that the deal to finally and irreversibly resolve the issue does not sufficiently take into account the views of surviving victims. Seoul also supported a bid past year to add documents related to comfort women to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

Sources familiar with the issue said the remaining survivors refused to accept the money from the foundation, demanding direct compensation from the Japanese government instead, or for other reasons. Japan sees this as a violation of South Korea's promise not to criticize the country over the comfort women issue in the global community.

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