Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Japan PM arrives in Europe amid N. Korea tensions

Japan PM arrives in Europe amid N. Korea tensions

"It is a universal principle that bilateral agreements are followed", Mr Abe told reporters in his first public comments since the issue flared up again this week. "We can not accept South Korea's unilateral demands for additional measures", Abe told reporters.

Abe said that on his visit he is planning to reaffirm Japan's cooperations with these countries in matters concerning North Korea.

Abe's six-day tour will also take him to the two other Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania, making him the first Japanese prime minister to visit those countries. The 2015 Japan-South Korea agreement is a promise between two nations. Instead, the government would not use Japan's funds - a key result of the 2015 deal - and would use its own money to support the victims.

And while Mr Moon wants to forge "forward-oriented ties" with Japan - separate from the comfort women issue - Dr Minohara said: "This is like punching someone in the face and then saying to them, "I hope it doesn't ruin our relationship". Japan should accept the truth, make a heartfelt apology to victims".

"This issue can not be resolved through a give-and-take deal between governments struck over the victims' head", he said. Following the ministry's announcement, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that Tokyo could not accept South Korea's demands for additional measures.

Another Japanese daily, the Sankei Shimbun, reported a day earlier that Abe had decided he would not attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games.

But tensions are not likely to deteriorate further, given Japan's reaction was not "stronger" than expected, another expert said. "The Korean government should communicate with the Japanese government to build mutual trust from now on", said Lee Myeon-woo, head of the diplomacy and security strategy research department at Sejong Institute.

Moon had lambasted the agreement on the campaign trail and was elected president in May after Park was impeached and jailed over a massive corruption scandal.

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