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

China urges Japan to responsibly deal with comfort women issue

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The two countries signed the deal on December 28, 2015, to "finally and irreversibly" settle the comfort women issue, which has always been a key source of tension between the two countries. Following the ministry's announcement, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that Tokyo could not accept South Korea's demands for additional measures.

His remarks came after President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday also called the 2015 deal "unsatisfactory" and demanded Japan accept historical truth and offer a honest apology to the victims in a nationally televised press conference.

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.

Abe said that on his visit he is planning to reaffirm Japan's cooperations with these countries in matters concerning North Korea. "It is an worldwide and universal principle to keep it", Abe told reporters prior to departing for an East European tour.

Inoue suggested to Abe that Japan should not miss the current opportunities to improve Sino-Japanese relations, and should try to realize exchanges of high-level visits between China and Japan, according to Kyodo News. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary later played down the report, saying it was not yet decided.

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. He added that he is traveling with representatives from more than 30 Japanese companies.

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.

There were 47 South Korean comfort women at the time the deal was struck, but this figure now stands at 33. Seoul's foreign ministry said that a trilateral meeting among South Korea, the US and Japan is also being considered on the topic of North Korea and the latest inter-Korean talks.

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