South Korea’s decision this week to dissolve a foundation established with Japanese funds to support the former “comfort women” who staffed wartime brothels for the Japanese military effectively guts the 2015 agreement between Tokyo and Seoul to “finally and irreversibly” settle the issue, which has been a thorn in the side of bilateral relations since the 1990s. South Korean President Moon Jae-in should consider the implications that such an act — which amounts to reneging on a diplomatic accord — will have on his country’s international credibility.
Officially, the Moon administration says it will not seek to scrap or renegotiate the agreement with Japan. But Moon, who pledged in his campaign last year to reconsider the accord struck in December 2015 by his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, has challenged the agreement as president. Last December, his government panel determined that the accord did not sufficiently reflect the opinions of the former comfort women, and Moon himself said the accord will not settle the comfort women issue — without seeking to scrap the deal.