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Parties show mixed reactions to gov't measures on sex slavery deal

All News 17:56 January 09, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's political parties on Tuesday gave mixed responses to Seoul's measures to deal with a controversial 2015 deal with Japan to address its wartime sexual slavery.

Seoul's foreign ministry announced a set of measures that include desisting from seeking a renegotiation of the deal and from using the money that Tokyo has offered to support the former sex slaves under the deal.

The ruling Democratic Party called the measures "effective," casting the deal as a "diplomatic fiasco" of the preceding government.

"President Moon Jae-in's apology for the secret deal by the dogmatic former Park Geun-hye administration and the foreign ministry's prompt measures are only for the victims and our citizens," Back Hye-ryun, the party's spokeswoman, said in a written press briefing.

This photo, taken on Oct. 12, 2017, shows Back Hye-ryun, the spokeswoman of the ruling Democratic Party, speaking during a parliamentary audit of the Supreme Court in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"For the future-oriented development of bilateral relations, we call for a change in Tokyo's attitude vis-a-vis the human rights issue of the comfort women," she added, referring to the victims who were forced by Japan into sexual servitude during World War II.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, however, railed against the measures.

"There is no tangible substance in the measures, as to what and how it will address the issue," Jun Hee-kyung, the party's spokeswoman, said.

The minor opposition People's Party lambasted Moon for failing to make good on his election pledge to seek a renegotiation of the deal.

"President Moon should first apologize for breaking his election promise," party spokeswoman Lee Heang-ja said. "The foreign ministry's task force on the deal only crafted an exit strategy."

Addressing the controversy over the deal has been a nettlesome foreign policy challenge to Moon, as many victims remain opposed to the deal, while a renegotiation could risk further straining ties with Japan, a crucial partner in reining in North Korea's nuclear threats.

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.


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