Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that he cannot accept South Korean government's announcement that the issue of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women has not been resolved through a controversial deal reached in 2015, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing local news report.
Kyodo News quoted Abe as saying during a meeting with reporters that the deal is a government-to-government agreement and that Seoul's latest stance on the accord can never be accepted.
Abe also reiterated his call for South Korea to faithfully carry out the agreement.
The longstanding issue of wartime sexual slavery has recently resurfaced to strain ties between the two neighbors as Seoul has recently concluded that the 2015 deal aimed at settling the dispute is seriously flawed.
Under the agreement reached Dec 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan promised to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the so-called comfort women issue. Tokyo apologised and pledged one billion yen (US$8.9 million, RM35 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.
It, however, prompted strong criticism from victims and civic groups who claim that Japan's apology was not sincere enough and that the government did not consult with them in advance. Some demand renegotiating or even walking away from the deal altogether.
Wrapping up its monthslong review, the Moon Jae-in government on Tuesday demanded additional steps from Japan, including a heartfelt apology, aimed at helping the victims heal their wounds and regain dignity.
The government also vowed to arrange its own funds to support the victims instead of using the money offered by Japan. But it stopped short of seeking to renegotiate or walk away from the deal.