Abe rejects Seoul's call for more action on comfort women

Abe rejects Seoul's call for more action on comfort women

The US allies are key to efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

At their joint news conference, Abe said it was significant that the two countries agree on the North Korean issue.

Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula and the "comfort women" issue is especially touchy. Follow-up measures for victims of Japan's sexual enslavement, which the Korean government called for, are likely to be discussed during the meeting.

Worldwide relations professor Kim Jae Chun of Sogang University warned that the difference in opinion over the comfort women deal could pose a major roadblock for Korea-Japan relations.

The two countries signed the deal on December 28, 2015, to "finally and irreversibly" settle the comfort women issue, which has always been a key source of tension between the two countries. Keeping this promise is an global and universal principle.

Japan has maintained the issue was solved under the 2015 agreement and any attempts to amend the deal could harm bilateral ties.

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In his first public response to Mr Moon's comments, Mr Abe said yesterday: "Such unilateral demands that Japan take additional steps are absolutely unacceptable".

Japanese media reports have said Abe may not attend the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month because of the feud, although the government's top spokesman said on Thursday that it had not been decided.

The goal is to make use of the strengths of long-term government and expand the frontiers of Japanese diplomacy, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga puts it. Tokyo intends to win widespread acceptance for key policies, such as those regarding North Korea and the European Union trade deal.

"I don't think Korea-Japan ties will get worse".

The deal prompted strong protests from some victims and their rights groups here.

The agreement was finalised by now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye under pressure from Washington in the face of mounting security threats from North Korea.

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