Moon apologizes to ex-comfort women about deal with Japan

Moon apologizes to ex-comfort women about deal with Japan

"If they are so scared of the comfort women statues, then they can apologize".

The "comfort women" - the around 30 who are still alive - want Japan to take legal, binding responsibility for its actions.

A day after the task force's report was released, Moon said that the 2015 agreement "contained major flaws in terms of procedure and contents", signaling the possibility that the government may either call for a renegotiating of the deal or even scrap it.

The panel set up by the South Koreans to investigate the compensation deal announced last week that it had concluded that it failed to meet the comfort women's needs.

Under the agreement, which both sides called a "final and irreversible resolution", Japan issued an apology and promised 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) for programs to assist victims.

The following day, Moon said the two-year-old deal can not resolve the controversial issue because negotiations that led to the agreement were flawed.

'It's still not an easy situation to handle within our bilateral relationship'.

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Moon apologized to the women about the deal but said "there is no denying the fact" that it is a "formal agreement", according to the presidential office statement.

Moon visited one of the women, Kim Bok-dong, separately in the morning as she was ill and unable to attend the lunch.

"I survived a shower of bullets, so you bet I'll be able to overcome something like this", Kim, who is hospitalized for illnesses related to old age, was quoted as responding by the Blue House. She said she trusted the government, and urged Moon to get tough on Japan. Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced into sexual servitude during World War II.

The meeting was held at Moon's behest after he told government officials he wanted an opportunity to console former comfort women in person.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono recently issued a written statement in which he called on South Korea to keep the agreement intact and said that any attempt to amend what was agreed upon "cannot be acceptable" and would make ties with South Korea "unmanageable". Though scrapping the deal was possible, the consequences of doing so would have to be weighed carefully, the foreign minister said.

But their bitter history, including Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula and the issue of the women, has regularly been a source of rancour between them.

Calling out the names of eight victims who passed away previous year, participants of the rally signed a petition urging the Japanese government to issue an official apology and provide legal compensation for the victims as well as an accurate historical account of its wartime atrocities.

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