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South Korea says it won't scrap sex slaves accord with Japan
10 January 2018, 01:17 | Darnell Patrick
Seoul to announce measures on 'defective' sex slavery deal
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha unveiled those plans during a press conference in Seoul as a follow-up to a recent government conclusion that the deal was flawed and sufficient efforts were not made to reflect the views and opinions of victims before it was reached between the neighbors. Some in South Korea have suggested putting it in a trust if Japan does not come to the table. Japan did issue an apology as part of the 2015 accord, but did not accept legal responsibility.
That created an opportunity for Moon to back out of the agreement, but at the risk of upending South Korea's relationship with Japan at a time when the countries are united in confronting North Korea over its weapons programs.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said the deal, under which Japan apologized to victims and provided 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to help them, was seriously flawed.
Her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, meanwhile described the deal as "irreversible", saying that it created a "crucial" foundation for cooperation between the two United States allies "amid efforts to address threats from North Korea".
South Korea's Kang did not elaborate on what additional steps South Korea was seeking but a senior foreign ministry official told Reuters it wanted a "voluntary, honest apology rather than money". Instead it would augment Japan's one billion yen ($8.8 million, €7.4 million) offer to the surviving "comfort women" with its own funds. The flames were forcing the South Korean Coast Guard's search and rescue team to stay as far as 4.8km away from the tanker, two South Korean officials said.
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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.
"There is no room for any compromise on that agreement", he said. But others rejected it, and some have been protesting regularly in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. 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.
Seoul invited a survivor to meet President Trump during his visit to South Korea in November, which Japan criticized as not keeping with the spirit of the 2015 agreement.
"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. 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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