May 18, 2017 5:00 am JST

South Koreans find 'comfort women' deal hard to accept: envoy

In Tokyo meeting, Seoul lawmaker urges joint efforts

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, discussed sensitive issues in the Tokyo-Seoul relationship with Moon Hee-sang, a visiting envoy from South Korea. © Pool photo

TOKYO -- South Korean people find it emotionally hard to accept the 2015 bilateral deal on wartime "comfort women," an envoy visiting Japan said Wednesday, dashing Tokyo's hopes of resolving the issue once and for all.

Moon Hee-sang, a special envoy of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, made the statement in a meeting with Japan's foreign affairs minister, Fumio Kishida. The deal, forged under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye, was intended to "finally and irrevocably" settle the problem.

Kishida replied that he hoped to steer bilateral relations, including with regard to the deal, in the right direction.

Moon suggested Tokyo and Seoul strive to overcome the issue by squarely facing past developments, including the so-called Kono and Murayama statements, in which Japanese leaders admitted the country's responsibility for its wartime actions. The envoy, who is a member of the National Assembly, has said in past statements that Japan and South Korea need to solve the problem by a "third route" that does not involve tearing up or renegotiating the deal.

Kishida expressed a desire to cooperate closely with South Korea's new government on several fronts, especially regarding North Korea's ongoing missile launches, which he said were provocations to international society that absolutely could not be allowed.

Moon responded that Japan, the U.S. and South Korea must all cooperate, centered on the alliance between Seoul and Washington. He also urged a meeting between Japan and South Korea's leaders at the soonest possible date. The envoy is set to meet with Abe Thursday.

(Nikkei)

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