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Abe repeats hopes for ‘future-oriented’ ties to visiting South Korean delegation

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday reiterated his readiness to promote a “future-oriented” relationship with South Korea as the two countries share the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“We would like to develop future-oriented relations so that the difficult problems between the two countries will not have a negative impact on overall Japan-South Korean ties,” Abe said in a message read to a visiting group of South Korean politicians.

He was apparently referring to such issues as the “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s World War II military brothels.

Abe’s message was read by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura during a meeting in Tokyo between Japanese and South Korean parliamentarians.

Fukushiro Nukaga, who heads the nonpartisan Diet group that took part in the meeting, emphasized to his counterparts the 2015 comfort women deal, saying Japanese lawmakers “will support the victims to restore their honor and dignity.”

The issue has been a source of diplomatic strife between Tokyo and Seoul as many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula. Under the landmark bilateral deal reached two years ago, both countries agreed to resolve the decades-old issue “finally and irreversibly.”

But the government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May, has said it is looking into the process that led to the accord under the previous government, arguing that most South Koreans do not approve of it.

Kang Chang-il, who leads the South Korean parliamentary group, said Japan and South Korea “share the same destiny” in the face of the North Korean threat.

The last meeting between the two parliamentarian groups was in November 2016 in Seoul.