Abe kicks off six-nation European tour in Estonia

Jan 13, 2018, 03:36
Abe kicks off six-nation European tour in Estonia

The issue of women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops in World War II has roiled relations between the neighbours - both of them USA allies and both threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea - for decades.

South Korean President Moon Jae In, in his New Year press conference on Wednesday, said that the 2015 deal had come about the "wrong way" and urged Japan to make a "heartfelt apology" to the victims, even as he conceded that the pact to end the dispute was not renegotiable.

Under the deal, South Korea promised not to raise the issue again and Japan transferred 1 billion yen (now $8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims. It said it would consult with Japan on what to do with the funds already given by the country.

Abe announced that Japan would join NATO's cyberdefense center in Tallinn to boost its capabilities to deal with digital threats.

The two countries signed the deal on December 28, 2015, to "finally and irreversibly" settle the comfort women issue, which has always been a key source of tension between the two countries. "It is a universal principle that bilateral agreements are followed", Mr Abe said yesterday.

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"We can by no means accept South Korea's unilateral request for additional measures".

Another Japanese daily, the Sankei Shimbun, reported a day earlier that Abe had decided he would not attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games.

The goal is to make use of the strengths of long-term government and expand the frontiers of Japanese diplomacy, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga puts it. Tokyo intends to win widespread acceptance for key policies, such as those regarding North Korea and the European Union trade deal. "The more the Korean government seeks to additionally consult with Japan on the comfort women issue, the worse its relation with Japan gets".

"I don't think Korea-Japan ties will get worse". He has pursued a "two track" approach of separating historical issues from current affairs to build a "future-oriented" relationship with Japan.

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