Japanese PM kicks off six-nation European tour in Estonia


Under the agreement, Japan apologized and paid 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a Korea-run foundation to support the victims in return for Seoul's promise not to raise the issue again in global forums. "It is an global and universal principle to keep it", Abe told reporters prior to departing for an East European tour.

While Seoul said this week it will not bring the deal back to the drawing board out of respect for bilateral ties, it said the deal had come about the "wrong way" and sought another "heartfelt apology" from Japan.

He will be the first Japanese prime minister to visit these countries.

Abe said that Japan and Estonia have had a close relationship over the last few years, and that at this point some 100,000 Japanese tourists visit Estonia every year.

Yoshihide Suga, the top Japanese government spokesman and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, said Wednesday: "Japan can never accept it if the South Korean side demands we take further measures despite the agreement that confirmed the final and irreversible solution on the issue".

The victims' resistance and negative public sentiment toward the deal led the liberal government to order a thorough review of the accord, and a public-private task force concluded that the deal, signed under former President Park Geun-hye, had procedural flaws.

There were 47 South Korean comfort women at the time the deal was struck, but this figure now stands at 33.

Numerous women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese aggressors came from the Korean Peninsula as well as other parts of Asia, including China. "The more the Korean government seeks to additionally consult with Japan on the comfort women issue, the worse its relation with Japan gets".

He said the comfort women issue has been dug up over and over again for "domestic political gain", adding that Seoul chose to gloss over "uncomfortable truth" of historians' findings that South Korean soldiers were culpable of raping Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War.

"We hope Japan addresses the concerns of its Asian neighbors and the global community, and properly handles relevant issues with a responsible attitude", Lu said.