S Korea leader seeks Japan’s patience in resolving issues

SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-In said on Monday ties with Japan are being blocked by historical issues that will take time to resolve and he asked for Japan’s understanding and cooperation on the issue.
Moon’s comments were an apparent reference to Korean “comfort women”, a Japanese euphemism for women forced to work in the Japanese military’s wartime brothels.
The issue of the women has plagued bilateral ties between the neighbours for decades.
Moon told the visiting secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party that the people of South Korea did not accept a deal reached by his conservative predecessor and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015 to resolve the issue.
But Moon, in his talks with Toshihiro Nikai, apparently did not directly address whether he would seek to renegotiate the agreement, in which Japan made an apology to the women, who are now elderly, and promised about one billion yen ($9.07 million) for a fund to help them.
The two governments agreed under the deal that the issue would be “irreversibly resolved” if both sides fulfilled their obligations.
“Both South Korea and Japan should look at this issue directly and understanding is needed that it will take more time (to resolve it),” Moon told Nikai, the South’s presidential office said.
Moon, who suggested during his successful campaign for a May 9 election that he could try to renegotiate the deal, also said the two countries should not “cling to past history” only to block other developments in their ties.
Moon stressed the importance of cooperation with Japan in efforts to denuclearise North Korea, which has been ramping up weapons tests since last year in defiance of global sanctions.
Nikai said he agreed with Moon and hoped the two countries could move forward together, the South’s presidential office said. — Reuters