Seoul does not plan to scrap or renegotiate the 2015 bilateral deal on the so-called comfort women, announced Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha Tuesday, though she underscored that the agreement is not a true resolution to the issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery. Some in South Korea have suggested putting it in a trust if Japan does not come to the table.
Those opposed to the 2015 deal want Japan to take legal responsibility and provide due compensation. The pact was reached by the administration of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, predecessor to current President Moon Jae-in.
The decision was reached after a Foreign Ministry task force spent months reviewing the negotiating process and contents of the 2015 deal, gathering survivors' viewpoints and taking into consideration Korea-Japan relations, Kang added.
Her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, meanwhile described the deal as "irreversible", saying that it created a "crucial" foundation for cooperation between the two USA allies "amid efforts to address threats from North Korea".
South Korea intends to replace that 1 billion yen with its own funds and discuss with Tokyo what to do with Japan's contribution, Kang said Tuesday.
The dispute centers on the 1 billion yen ($8.84 million at current rates) Japan put into a South Korean foundation to compensate former comfort women and their descendants under the agreement. The flames were forcing the South Korean Coast Guard's search and rescue team to stay as far as 4.8km away from the tanker, two South Korean officials said. South Korea in turn pledged to not criticize Japan over the issue.
"There is no room for any compromise on that agreement", he said.
Mainstream historians say as many as 200,000 women - mostly from Korea but also other parts of Asia, including China - were forced to become sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during the war. Tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of women were compelled to work in brothels that served the Japanese military.
Seoul will not ask Tokyo to revise a bilateral pact on settling Japan's wartime sex slavery of Korean women. When activists placed another in South Korea's second-largest city, Busan, in 2016, Japan temporarily recalled its ambassador from Seoul and consul general from Busan.
"We can by no means accept South Korea's demands for additional measures", Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters in Tokyo. The meeting between representatives of North and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries was the first formal round of talks in more than two years, and helped ease tensions that had been escalating over the North's nuclear and missile tests.