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Recently, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe spoke about the reparation deal made with South Korea regarding World War II sexual slavery. He stated the deal constituted a promise made between the two countries. He said it was unacceptable for the South Korean comfort women to require another apology. South Korea refused to roll back the accord from 2015.

Three days later the additional measures Seoul desired were rejected by Minister Abe. The issue was serious enough to jeopardize his attendance at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics held in South Korea.

The Deal

South Korean Prime Minister, Moon Jae-in, wants an apology for the Korean comfort women. Shinzo Abe told reporters the request for additional measures made by South Korea will not be honored. He believes the deal already made must be kept due to the universal and international principles involved. The comfort women testimonies speak of the sex slave issue. This is a wound between the countries causing history to be whitewashed and twisted.

These issues may cause fresh diplomatic debates when South Korea and Japan should be handling the potential nuclear crises. The two countries originally agreed the deal was both irreversible and final.

The deal involved an apology from the Japanese government and $8.8 million for care for the comfort women. South Korea immediately stated the agreement was insufficient. In 2016 Ms. Park was impeached and her successor was Mr. Moon. He agreed to review the deal. The conclusion of a panel appointed by the government was the victims were not represented well enough by South Korea for Japan to assume responsibility and provide official reparations.

The foreign minister is Kang Kyung-wha. She stated a genuine resolution was not reached by the settlement in 2015. She said $8.8 million would be provided by South Korea for the victims. No decision had been made regarding the contribution from Japan.

Comfort Women Apology

Mr. Moon apologized to Japan the next day due to the comfort women stories. He felt this was a lesson to prevent another recurrence of atrocities. This issue reached a peak a month prior to the Winter Olympics opening. According to the media Mr. Abe was considering boycotting the ceremony.

There was a meeting at the presidential compound to discuss the World War II brothels established by the Japanese soldiers. Mr. Abe was uncertain if he would attend the ceremony and stated the cause as the new Parliament session. In 2014 he missed a portion of this session to attend the Winter Olympics in Russia.

Many Japanese commentators are supporting Mr. Abe’s decision regarding the demand from South Korea. Asahi Shimbun is responsible for a daily editorial that leans towards the left. This editorial is generally very critical regarding Mr. Abe. It stated the 2015 deal was not consistent with developments from the past. The newspaper believes Japan should consider honoring the agreement without South Korea telling them what must be done.

Analysts said there have been numerous apologies from Japan for the women forced to work in the brothels during World War II. This dates back 25 years to when the Chief Cabinet Secretary admitted the military had a role in forcing these women to provide soldiers with sex. The critics have mentioned prior to Mr. Abe becoming prime minister in 2012 for the second time he was questioning if the Korean women were actually forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military.

The South Korean government asking for another apology is an indication they are trying for a revision to the agreement of 2015. This agreement was supposed to put the issue to rest. The position of the Koreans is being viewed as problematic and confusing.