Japan's Abe rejects calls for apology to 'comfort women'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula and the "comfort women" issue is especially touchy.

"We have noticed relevant reports", spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing, stressing that China's stance on the comfort women issue remains consistent and clear. The US allies are key to efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"This is not only related to Japan's image, but also to historical justice", the spokesperson said.

"It is a universal principle that bilateral agreements are followed", Mr Abe told reporters in his first public comments since the issue flared up again this week.

January 11, 2018 (EIRNS)-Following his meeting with Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Yoshihisa Inoue, Secretary General of the Komeito Party (the LDP's coalition partner), Premier Shinzo Abe said Japan will "properly respond to" individual cooperation programs related to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Xinhua reported. The South Korean government declared on Tuesday that the 2015 agreement was not a conclusive resolution to the issue of Japan's wartime atrocity, and although Seoul decided it will not seek to renegotiate the deal, it did call on Tokyo to offer a voluntary and honest apology to the surviving victims.

Japan, he said, "has been carrying out all the promises it made in good faith" and urged South Korea to "firmly follow through" on the pact.

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Seoul said this week that it would not seek to renegotiate the deal, as it had been agreed by both Tokyo and the previous South Korean government.

"This issue can not be resolved through a give-and-take deal between governments struck over the victims' head", he said.

While Seoul said this week it will not bring the deal back to the drawing board out of respect for bilateral ties, it said the deal had come about the "wrong way" and sought another "heartfelt apology" from Japan.

He added that the issue will only be resolved if "Japan accepts the truth, makes a heartfelt apology to the victims, learns the lessons from it and prevents its recurrence".

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 agreement was finalised by now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye under pressure from Washington in the face of mounting security threats from North Korea.

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