Less than two weeks after a government task force review strongly criticized the 2015 Seoul-Tokyo agreement on the issue of Japanese wartime sex slavery, the Moon administration has issued its initial response and follow-up measures.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha declared on Tuesday that the deal did not resolve the issue as it had stated.
Jan. 9. 2018
"The 2015 agreement, which did not adequately take into consideration the victims, cannot be considered a genuine resolution of the Japanese wartime sex slavery issue."
However, Seoul has decided not to renegotiate, nor scrap the agreement as some had called for.
Jan. 9. 2018
"It cannot be denied that the 2015 deal was an official agreement between two countries. With this in mind, our government will not ask to renegotiate the agreement with Japan."
Kang also revealed that Seoul will put aside 8.9 million U.S. dollars to help the victims rather than use the equivalent amount offered by Tokyo in the 2015 deal as a compensation fund -- as for the money from Tokyo, they plan to have further discussions on what to do with it.
Seoul also called on Tokyo to make efforts of their own accord to help ease the victims' suffering, and give them a sincere, voluntary apology.
Tokyo issued an initial response, saying that it will not accept Seoul not* honoring the agreement.
Japan's foreign minister, Taro Kono, said that the deal was a promise between two nations, irrespective of changes in government, and that he will issue a strong complaint to Seoul.
However, observers say the real litmus test of Tokyo's stance will be seen in whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics next month.
Meanwhile, several victims themselves, at a special care home for survivors of the atrocity, are reported to have criticized the announcement, saying the deal needs to be scrapped altogether.
The chairman of the care home said that if Seoul does not agree with the deal but does not scrap it, then that is a betrayal of the victims.
However, a foreign ministry official said on Tuesday, that they have taken time in recent weeks to communicate with the surviving victims and that opinions on how to tackle the deal had varied greatly.
"They say a compromise leaves nobody satisfied. Seoul is not asking for a renegotiation of the 2015 agreement, but at the same time it is choosing not to honor it. The question now is whether the Moon administration will be able to appease either the victims or Tokyo with this position.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang news."