South Korea and Japan have agreed to resolve a row over a 2015 deal on Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women in a future-oriented manner, President Moon Jae-in's special envoy said Saturday.
Moon Hee-sang relayed that Japan said that it understood South Koreans' negative sentiment toward the controversial deal reached by the former South Korean government and Japan.
His remarks came after returning from his four-day trip to Japan where he delivered Moon's letter to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.
"We did not mention scrapping the agreement, but made it clear that most South Koreans cannot accept the deal," Moon told reporters, upon arrival in Seoul. "I've heard some comments from Japan that can be viewed as Tokyo's understanding of South Koreans' (sentiment)."
He added that the agreement would not stand in the way of improving South Korea's ties with Japan.
The envoy's visit to Japan came amid protracted friction over the deal reached in December 2015 to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the issue of Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.
The deal calls for Abe's indirect apology and the launch of a foundation dedicated to supporting the surviving victims. Tokyo promised to chip in 1 billion yen (US$9.97 million) to the foundation launched last year.
But critics said that Seoul failed to obtain Japan's acknowledgment of legal responsibility for atrocities and rashly reached the deal without consulting the victims.
In phone talks with Abe on May 11 after his inauguration, President Moon said that many Korean people cannot accept the deal emotionally, hinting at a possible move to renegotiate the deal.
"The visit to Japan can be viewed as paving the way for making strained Seoul-Tokyo ties start new," said the special envoy, a five-term lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party.