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International relations

South Korea to honor 2015 'comfort women' accord with Japan

But Seoul will urge Tokyo to do more on the long-running issue

SEOUL -- The South Korean government on Tuesday will announce its official view on the previous administration's 2015 deal with Japan intended to resolve the issue of wartime "comfort women," with several diplomatic sources saying Seoul will call on Tokyo to voluntarily take additional action.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will deliver a statement at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the ministry said Monday. She is expected to focus mostly on measures the South Korean government plans to take to provide additional support for the comfort women, and will not push to scrap or renegotiate the controversial agreement.

In a report published Dec. 27, a task force under the South Korean Foreign Ministry concluded that Seoul had failed to sufficiently take the victims' opinions into account as it negotiated the 2015 deal. Noting the agreement is not sufficient for resolving the comfort women issue, South Korean President Moon Jae-in instructed relevant agencies to come up with new measures.

Moon apologized directly to the women for the deal at a lunch earlier this month. But he also acknowledged that the previous government made an official agreement with Japan, and that resolving the issue in the context of bilateral ties will not be easy.

Kang is also expected to comment on a two-track strategy on Japan that aims to keep historical disputes separate from other aspects of bilateral relations, such as cooperation over the North Korea issue.

Kenji Kanasugi, the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian affairs chief, met with South Korean officials here on Monday. Kanasugi reasserted that the 2015 deal "finally and irreversibly" settled the comfort women issue, and urged South Korea to carry out the terms of the agreement. The Japanese government plans to reject any additional demands by South Korea on the topic.

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