South Korea Will Not Renegotiate Deal with Japan Over Wartime 'Comfort Women'

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The South Korean government will shoulder the cost of the ¥1 billion contributed by the Japanese government to provide financial support to so-called former comfort women in South Korea, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said Tuesday.

Japan responded by saying any attempt by South Korea to revise the 2015 deal, struck by a conservative South Korean government, would make relations "unmanageable".

"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 in a statement carried by Yonhap News Agency. "It's an worldwide and universal principle that such an accord should be implemented responsibly even after a change of government". More than 70% of victims living at the time have claimed their compensation, the Japanese government says. 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. Some in South Korea have suggested putting it in a trust if Japan does not come to the table. "We don't plan to even discuss" how the funds will be handled, the official said.

"(Seoul) is expected to urge Tokyo to take responsible steps vis-a-vis wrong (parts of the) deal in line with the seriousness of the comfort women issue and the spirit of the principles of universality for mankind", the source added. "In consideration of such, our government will not call for a renegotiation of the agreement".

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The task force was established in July 2017 as an agency reporting directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to review the comfort women agreement, which was signed on December 28, 2015 between South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which promised the final closure of the sex slave question once and for all. Seoul also supported a bid a year ago to add documents related to comfort women to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

Some in Japan's government have voiced frustration with what they see as South Korea moving the goalposts on the issue, and they suspect the Moon administration, prompted by its liberal base, could further increase its demands in the future. Japan sees this as a violation of South Korea's promise not to criticize the country over the comfort women issue in the worldwide community.

Seoul will not ask Tokyo to renegotiate the 2015 settlement on the issue of Japan's wartime sex slavery.

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