May 12, 2017 11:13
President Moon Jae-in spoke over the telephone on Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and hinted at scrapping an agreement for compensating the Korean victims of sex slavery during World War II.
In the 25-minute conversation, the two leaders agreed to meet in the near future and cooperate closely in dealing with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.
But Moon and Abe did not see eye to eye on a controversial deal struck with ex-President Park Geun-hye on compensating the Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.
Moon asked Abe to cooperate in tackling issues arising from Japan's colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 so bilateral ties can develop further. But Abe reiterated that Japan expects the deal, reached in late 2015, to be implemented faithfully.
Tokyo agreed to pay 1 billion yen in indirect compensation to the victims but accepted no clear responsibility for the atrocity, and Japan asked Seoul to remove statues commemorating the victims from the immediate vicinity of Japanese diplomatic missions.
Moon told Abe that most Koreans "cannot accept the agreement," according to his spokesman. Japan's immediate gripe is a statue that has been set up outside the Japanese Consulate in Busan by a private charity. Moon told Abe that there is little the government can do to intervene in private activities and asked for more time to deal with the issue.
Meanwhile, Moon also spoke over the telephone with Chinese President Xi Jinping for about 40 minutes and urged him to help in dealing with the North Korean nuclear menace. He told Xi that both carrot and stick are needed to resolve the crisis.
Moon said he fully understands China's concerns over the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here and suggested that the two sides discuss the matter soon, and he will send a special envoy to Beijing.
Xi apparently agreed. China opposes the THAAD deployment because it believes that the powerful radar that comes with it can be used to spy on its military movements.
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