South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed Japan on Thursday for its latest offensive remarks about the victims of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of women.
"Japan is inflicting another wound on the surviving victims of sexual enslavement by denying its military's direct involvement, which it had previously acknowledged in the Kono Statement."
The Kono Statement is a landmark apology issued by Japan in 1993 to the 200-thousand or so women, mostly Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery during the Second World War.
Tokyo has been backtracking on that apology in recent months by calling into question the validity of testimony given by Korean women that established the basis of the statement.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday at a press briefing that there was no evidence that Japan forced the recruitment of women.
The comments came on the same day the two neighbors were holding their first high-level talks in eight months, which ended without results.
Speculation leading up to the talks was that Japan would propose a summit with South Korea on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague later this month.
More than a year into office now, President Park Geun-hye has yet to sit down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Park has said she would not meet with a leader who fails to acknowledge his country's historical wrongdoings.
"The South Korean government believes it is important to engage in talks when the two leaders can reach productive outcomes, rather than holding talks for talks' sake."
"Seoul's foreign ministry said Japan must first take sincere steps to settle the history issues in order to hold productive talks with South Korea.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."