World

Moon says comfort women issue can't be settled by 'defective' 2015 deal

Moon says comfort women issue can't be settled by 'defective' 2015 deal

South Korean President Moon Jae In said Thursday a two-year-old deal struck with Japan can not resolve the "comfort women" issue because negotiations that led to the agreement were flawed, as suggested in a recent government report.

Japan said on Wednesday any attempt by South Korea to revise the 2015 deal would make relations "unmanageable", with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying the settlement had resulted from "legitimate negotiations".

Moon has directed his government to compile a new policy on the issue, but a high-level official at the presidential office indicated that a decision on the matter will likely be taken early next month as it is necessary to hear the opinions of the women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

The panel also said parts of the deal were not made public, including Japanese demands that the South Korean government avoid using the term "sexual slavery" and provide a specific plan to remove a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy.

The review also confirmed that some of the agreements between Seoul and Tokyo had been kept hidden, including additional details on dealing with the press, Korean civic groups and the memorial statues dedicated to the victims.

A team of nine public officials and experts looked into the yearslong negotiations and related procedure in the run-up to and after the announcement of the accord on December 28, 2015, in a series of 20 meetings held over five months.

People move in to take a closer look at the Comfort Women monument after it was unveiled Friday Sept. 22 2017 in San Francisco
Eric RisbergJapan's Osaka to Cut Ties With San Francisco Over'Comfort Women Statue

"Several victims and civic groups have said they can not accept it as it is not a compensation".

But Oh Tai-kyu, who heads the comfort women taskforce, said receiving the money did not necessarily mean the recipients supported the agreement.

Despite his criticism, Moon stopped short of clarifying whether his government would push for scrapping or renegotiation of the deal, either of which Tokyo is unlikely to accept. But acknowledgement of legal responsibility for its crime was one of the key requirements the "comfort women" victims asked for, it pointed out. "I make it clear once again that this agreement can not resolve the comfort women issue", the president was quoted as saying. "There should be longer-term efforts for the spread of values, awareness and education for future generations".

Historians estimate up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced into sexual slavery.

"The agreement can not solve the comfort women issue", Moon said, calling the deal a "political agreement that excludes victims and the public" and violates general principles in global society concerning resolution of historical issues, according to a Blue House statement.





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