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(LEAD) S. Korea not to seek renegotiation of sex slavery deal with Japan

All News 15:08 January 09, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES 2nd para to clarify; ADDS more comments and background info from 4th para)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday that it will not seek renegotiation of a controversial 2015 deal it reached with Japan to settle long-running feud over former comfort women forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops during World War II.

The Seoul government said that it will also set aside its own money to help the victims heal their wounds and recover their dignity, instead of using the fund that Japan contributed to under the agreement.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha unveiled those plans during a press conference in Seoul as a follow-up to a recent government conclusion that the deal was flawed and sufficient efforts were not made to reflect the views and opinions of victims before it was reached between the neighbors.

"It cannot be denied that the 2015 deal was an official agreement reached between the governments of each country, and our government will not demand renegotiation," Kang said in a prepared statement.

"We still call on Japan to accept the truth in accordance with universally accepted standards and keep making efforts to recover their dignity and heal the wounds in their minds," she added.

(LEAD) S. Korea not to seek renegotiation of sex slavery deal with Japan - 1

The measures were announced after a government task force, which was launched after President Moon Jae-in took office in May, concluded late last year that the previous government of ousted President Park Geun-hye failed to make sufficient efforts to listen to the surviving former comfort women.

Moon criticized the deal as gravely flawed, saying it cannot resolve the comfort women issue. Kang earlier vowed to listen to all of the victims before finalizing the government's stance on the controversial deal.

Under the deal reached on Dec. 28, 2015, the neighbors agreed to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the comfort women issue. Tokyo apologized for its colonial-era atrocities and pledged 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.

The deal, however, prompted strong criticism from victims and civic groups who claim that Japan's apology was not sincere enough and that the government did not consult with them in advance. Some call for renegotiating or even scrapping the deal.

"Our government will explore victims-centered measures by gathering opinions from the victims and related organizations," Kang said. "We will also set aside money that will replace the 1 billion yen that the Japanese government gave under the deal and have consultations with Japan on how to handle the (existing) fund going forward."


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