World News

S.Korea accepts flawed 'comfort women' deal

S.Korea accepts flawed 'comfort women' deal

In response, her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, called the request "absolutely unacceptable", saying the 2015 agreement settled the issue "finally and irreversibly". The deal was reached by the government of President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in 2016 after months of turmoil and street protests.

Kang said that even though the deal was flawed, South Korea was not seeking to change it.

"While the administration has changed", Kono responded Tuesday, "responsibly implementing" the pact remains a matter of "universal worldwide principle".

Japan also agreed to contribute one billion yen toward a fund to support the victims. More than 70% of victims living at the time have claimed their compensation, the Japanese government says.

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.

There are 31 surviving women registered with the government, a foreign ministry official said. Some in South Korea have suggested putting it in a trust if Japan does not come to the table.

In 2015, when there were 47, 36 accepted the settlement, a the official said.

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Although it will not seek to renegotiate the deal, Kang said the South Korean government will replace the $8 million Japan paid into the victims' fund with money from its own budget.

"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 prepared statement.

In 2011, activists installed a statue honoring the women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, touching off a diplomatic furor.

Seoul will not ask Tokyo to revise a bilateral pact on settling Japan's wartime sex slavery of Korean women.

But President Moon Jae-in said last week the deal was seriously flawed and failed to seek the opinions of the women who worked in Japanese military brothels, siding with the conclusion of a special task force he created to study the agreement.

Under the deal which was reached in December 2015, Tokyo issued an acknowledgement of the sex slavery issue which was read out by foreign minister Fumio Kishida instead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Fresh disagreement on the issue could throw a wrench into Japan-South Korea relations just as concern builds in Tokyo about Seoul's growing preference for dialogue with North Korea. The meeting between representatives of North and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries was the first formal round of talks in more than two years, and helped ease tensions that had been escalating over the North's nuclear and missile tests.


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