All papers reported that South Korean President Moon met with eight former comfort women and their supporters on Thursday and apologized for the 2015 comfort women accord with Japan by saying: “It is not compatible with truth and justice. It was entirely wrong both in terms of content and procedures. I would like to apologize for the agreement being concluded without listening to your opinions. I cannot deny that it is an official agreement, but I don’t think the comfort women issue has been settled with this pact.” Projecting that when he announces his administration’s policy on the bilateral pact on Jan. 10, the ROK leader will probably have little choice but to honor the accord so as to prevent the further deterioration of ties with Tokyo, Asahi speculated that Moon chose to extend an apology in advance in order to deflect potential criticism from the victims and the public. Noting that the elderly victims have called for a formal apology from Japan, Yomiuri and Nikkei voiced concern that Seoul may ask Tokyo to take additional measures to ease their suffering.
According to the dailies, the GOJ reacted sharply to President Moon’s apology and filed a protest through diplomatic channels by saying: “Bilateral relations may become unmanageable if the South Korean government tries to alter an agreement that has already been implemented.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga separately said on a TV show last night that the comfort women accord “must not be altered one iota.”