Speaking to reporters, Abe said he intends to visit South Korea next month to attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics, as well as to hold the meeting with Moon. It had previously been reported that Abe was unlikely to attend the event due to dispute over the agreement.
|Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to members of the press in Tokyon on Wednesday. Yonhap|
In 2015, Seoul and Tokyo reached an agreement on Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during the first half of the 20th century. The deal, reached during the Park Geun-hye administration, called for the issue to be put to rest with Japan providing 1 billion yen ($9 million) as compensation to be used for surviving victims. A probe launched under the Moon administration, however, announced that the deal was reached under pressure from Park’s presidential office, and that it was insufficient. Moon, however, has ruled out renegotiating the deal due to potential diplomatic ramifications.
“I want to hold a summit meeting to firmly convey Japan’s stance on the agreement over the ‘comfort women’ issue,” Abe was quoted as saying by Japanese media Wednesday.
In an earlier interview with a Japanese daily, Abe said that the Olympics should be considered separately from developments in inter-Korean relations. In the interview, Abe also said that he will firmly request the South Korean government remove statues depicting victims of sexual slavery.
The Japanese leader also said that pressure on Pyongyang must be maintained, echoing Washington’s stance on the issue.
Abe was quoted as saying that he will convey his position on North Korea to the South Korean president, and that Seoul’s plans for providing humanitarian aid would “send a wrong message.”
South Korean government is reportedly considering resuming humanitarian aid to North Korea after the PyeongChang Games.
On Wednesday, a local daily quoted an unnamed government official as saying that Seoul is considering related plans, and that such measures would help maintain the “momentum of easing tension on the Korean Peninsula.”
According to Seoul’s presidential office, the Japanese government informed Seoul of Abe’s plans to visit South Korea through the Korean Embassy in Japan early Wednesday. Cheong Wa Dae, however, took a cautious approach, saying that plans need to be confirmed by Tokyo.
“The government has been negotiating with the Japanese government about Prime Minister Abe’s visit on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympics, and welcomes the Japanese government’s official communication of intention to visit,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
“The government plans to closely negotiate with the Japanese government to enable Prime Minister Abe’s visit to lead to future-oriented development of bilateral relations.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)