January 10, 2018 13:07
Tokyo flew into a fury on Tuesday after Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha confirmed that a 2015 deal to compensate Korean wartime sex slaves "cannot be a genuine solution to the issue."
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the 2015 deal was struck by the foreign ministers of the two countries, confirmed by the leaders of the two countries, and supported by the international community, including the U.S.
"We are not thinking of moving even a millimeter" on the deal, Suga said. The Japanese Foreign Ministry also said it "can't accept" Kang's statement.
Kang told reporters that Seoul will not seek to renegotiate the deal, which was struck in murky circumstances by the Park Geun-hye administration, but will also use its own money rather than the 1 billion yen paid by Japan to compensate the victims.
"What the victims have consistently wanted is a spontaneous and genuine apology" from Japan, Kang added.
That struck a particular nerve in the chauvinistic Japanese government, which was pleased that the deal let it off admitting full government responsibility for drafting thousands of women into sexual slavery for the Imperial Army in World War II.
"We can't accept Korea's request for us to do more, even though the two countries confirmed that the deal was final," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said. "It's an international and universal principle that a promise by a country should be kept responsibly despite changes of government."
Korea has admitted that the deal is legal, but a Foreign Ministry inquiry here last month found it "seriously flawed" and said some of the Park administration's concessions were kept secret and the victims were never consulted in the run-up.
Kyodo News said Seoul's plan to pay the victims with its own money is aimed at "watering down" the deal. "I want to get a correct understanding" of what Kang meant, Kono said referring to her baffling attempt to square the circle. "Japan has kept up its side of the deal."
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