SEOUL – South Korea will announce Tuesday its position on the “comfort women” deal with Japan that was meant to “finally and irreversibly” settle the issue when adopted two years ago but has since been criticized by the South Korean public.
Yonhap News Agency reported Monday, citing a South Korean government source, that Seoul will not demand the deal be renegotiated or totally scrapped, but will urge Tokyo to take certain actions to win greater Korean public acceptance.
On Tuesday, the day before President Moon Jae-in holds a New Year’s news conference, the Foreign Ministry will announce “follow-up measures” that Seoul believes the Japanese government should take, Yonhap reported.
South Korea “will urge the Japanese government to take responsible measures over the defective comfort women deal in line with the spirit of seriousness and cosmopolitanism,” the source was quoted as saying.
The term “comfort women” refers to girls and women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
On Dec. 27, a task force under the South Korean foreign minister said in a report that the previous government of Park Geun-hye failed to sufficiently consult former comfort women before agreeing to the deal with Japan.
After taking office last May, Moon ordered that the task force re-examine the process that led to the agreement, saying the majority of South Koreans did not approve of it.
The dispute has been a major strain on ties between Tokyo and Seoul for years.
Under the deal announced by the foreign ministers of the two countries, Japan gave ¥1 billion ($8.8 million) to a South Korean foundation to support Korean victims, while South Korea agreed to “make efforts” to remove a comfort women monument from in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.