The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Japanese government has reacted strongly to the new policy announced by the South Korean government on Tuesday regarding the bilateral accord reached in 2015 on the comfort women issue.
Japan is in a firm position to continuously demand steady implementation of the accord while not complying with the new call for a “voluntary, sincere apology” mentioned by South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We can’t accept at all South Korea’s demand for additional measures on our part [to resolve the issue],” Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters at the Foreign Ministry building on Tuesday, emphasizing the view of refusing such an additional demand.
The South Korean government, in announcing the new policy, has not requested a renegotiation of the accord. But a senior Japanese government official reacted coldly to it, saying, “It doesn’t deserve any evaluation in itself” because both governments confirmed in the accord the issue is resolved “finally and irreversibly.”
The “finally and irreversibly” resolution was included in the accord as the South Korean side has unilaterally brought up the issue repeatedly. The Japanese government continues to take a stern stance that there could be no concession to Seoul on such a demand.
With regard to a demand by South Korea for restoring the honor and dignity of former comfort women, a senior official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, “[Seoul] may be expecting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will send a letter of apology, among other steps.”
The official added, “The accord doesn’t include a stipulation that the prime minister will send such a letter, and we would never accept it.”
Since the inauguration of the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae In in May last year, the Japanese government has been urging South Korea to steadily implement the accord.
With North Korea’s nuclear and missile development becoming more serious, the Japanese government does not want the bilateral relationship to deteriorate. But, after the announcement on Tuesday, there is a spreading mood of disappointment within the government that “a relationship of mutual trust cannot be built.”
The South Korean government has asked Tokyo for Abe to visit South Korea during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month. But the Japanese government is considering not accepting the invitation.
“In addition to the announcement, while statues symbolizing former comfort women are installed in various parts of South Korea, if the prime minister pays a visit to South Korea for the Olympics, such a situation could be too much for him,” said a senior Japanese government official. Speech