China scolds Japan over issue of 'comfort women'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe at the UN General Assembly

Japan refuses South Korea's call to do more for 'comfort women'

Moon had stated that while it is "undeniable" that the deal is an official bilateral agreement, the "erroneous knot" with Japan over the "comfort women" issue must be untied by Tokyo apologizing to the victims. "The global and universal principle is to abide by such agreements". The US allies are key to efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

However, Moon said in December that the wartime sexual slavery issue can not be resolved by the 2015 deal with Japan as a secret agreement was found between the two countries after reviewing the procedure of the deal.

The government also vowed to arrange its own funds to support the victims instead of using the money offered by Japan.

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"Soul-searching on whether a universal human (rights) issue and a historical issue like the comfort women affair could be settled through negotiations should have made it possible to avoid it", the former journalist with a progressive newspaper said. "Japan must address the concerns of its Asian neighbors and the worldwide community, and deal with them responsibly".

The December 2015 agreement was negotiated, on Seoul's side, by the previous administration of President Park Geun-hye, who is now in detention after being impeached in early 2017.

In December 2015, the two governments agreed to drop the controversy over "comfort women" - sex workers, many of whom claim to have been coerced, tricked or forced to service Japanese troops in World War II - which has dogged ties since the early 1990s, as an inter-government issue.

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Abe said that on his visit he is planning to reaffirm Japan's cooperations with these countries in matters concerning North Korea.

On Mr Moon's comments during his New Year press conference that he seeks "forward-oriented ties" with Japan despite differences over the comfort women issue, Dr Minohara said: "This is like punching someone in the face and then saying to them, "I hope it doesn't ruin our relationship".

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