TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday reiterated his readiness to promote a “future-oriented” relationship with South Korea as the two Asian countries face the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
“We would like to develop future-oriented relations so that the difficult problems between the two countries will not have a negative impact on overall Japan-South Korean ties,” Abe said in a message, apparently taking into account such issues as the “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s World War II military brothels.
The Japanese leader’s message was read out by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura during a meeting in Tokyo of Japanese and South Korean parliamentarians.
During the meeting, Fukushiro Nukaga, who heads the nonpartisan Japanese parliamentary group, emphasized a 2015 deal over the comfort women, saying Japanese lawmakers “will support the victims to restore their honor and dignity.”
The issue has been a source of diplomatic conflict between Tokyo and Seoul as many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula. Under the landmark bilateral deal reached two years ago, both countries agreed to resolve the decades-old issue “finally and irreversibly.”
But the government of South Korean President Moon Jae In, who took office in May, has said it is looking into the process that led to the accord under the previous government, arguing the majority of South Koreans do not approve of it.
Kang Chang Il, who leads the South Korean parliamentary group, said Japan and South Korea “share the same destiny” in the face of the North Korean threats.
The last meeting between the two countries’ parliamentarian groups was held in November last year in Seoul.