TOKYO -- The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea announced Monday that the two countries have agreed on a way to resolve the issue of wartime "comfort women," which has long strained their relations.
In a joint press conference following the meeting in Seoul, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, "The Japanese government is keenly aware of the responsibility of the comfort women issue," adding that the Japanese Imperial Military had been involved and that the honor and dignity of many women had been hurt.
Kishida said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "expresses his feelings of heartfelt apology and remorse."
The minister said Japan will contribute around 1 billion yen ($8 million) in government money to a fund the South Korean government will establish to help the women.
Kishida called the agreement "final and irreversible," and said the two governments have agreed to refrain from criticizing each other over the issue in the future.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said if the steps pledged by Japan are fully implemented, his country will consider the resolution "final and irreversible." Regarding the symbolic statue of a young girl placed in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul -- which the Japanese side has asked to be removed in line with the resolution -- Yun said the South Korean government will talk with relevant groups to work toward an appropriate resolution.
Both ministers told reporters they hope this breakthrough heralds a new age in Japan-South Korea relations.