Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday rejected South Korea's calls for a honest apology to the "comfort women" who were forcibly conscripted to work in wartime military brothels, despite evident flaws in a bilateral deal. Under the agreement, Japan apologized and paid 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a Korea-run foundation to support the victims in return for Seoul's promise not to raise the issue again in worldwide forums.
"We have been honest in executing every promise we made".
At their joint news conference, Abe said it was significant that the two countries agree on the North Korean issue. Following the ministry's announcement, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that Tokyo could not accept South Korea's demands for additional measures. He also said Tokyo has sincerely carried out the deal thoroughly, and that Seoul needs to do the same. "The Korean government should communicate with the Japanese government to build mutual trust from now on", said Lee Myeon-woo, head of the diplomacy and security strategy research department at Sejong Institute.
Abe is due to return to Japan on Wednesday.
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In an editorial Friday, the Mainichi Shimbun said Abe's absence at the Olympics will only leave a strong impression of cooling ties between Seoul and Tokyo, which would only benefit North Korea.
There were 47 surviving South Korean comfort women at the time the deal was struck, but this figure now stands at 33.
Yoshihide Suga, the top Japanese government spokesman and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, said Wednesday: "Japan can never accept it if the South Korean side demands we take further measures despite the agreement that confirmed the final and irreversible solution on the issue".
Between 80,000 and 200,000 women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, had been recruited to provide sex to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. But the South Korean government has no closure.
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Under the deal, South Korea promised not to raise the issue again and Japan transferred 1 billion yen (now $8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.
And in 1993, Tokyo extended "its honest apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women".
"Abe's visit definitely signifies a new level of relations between Estonia and Japan". Seoul's foreign ministry said that a trilateral meeting among South Korea, the US and Japan is also being considered on the topic of North Korea and the latest inter-Korean talks.
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