Moon tells Nikai ‘Let’s face reality’

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Moon tells Nikai ‘Let’s face reality’

While stressing the public’s dissatisfaction toward the 2015 agreement between Seoul and Tokyo to settle Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of Korean women, President Moon Jae-in presented Monday a two-track approach to separate the issue from efforts to improve bilateral relations in other areas.

Moon met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s special envoy at the Blue House. Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, made the visit with other senior officials and delivered Abe’s letter, which Moon commented on, presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.

“The prime minister included the ‘comfort women’ issue in the letter,” Moon was quoted as saying by Park. “The Korean people do not accept the agreement. Most of all, the ‘comfort women’ do not accept it. I believe we must face this reality and spend more time to resolve it.”

Under the 2015 agreement, Japan agreed to pay 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) and made a formal apology to the Korean victims forced to work at Japanese military brothels. But critics say the agreement is unsatisfactory.

Moon made it clear he does not want the issue to harm bilateral relations, Park said. In his first phone conversation with Abe last month, Moon said, “most Korean people do not emotionally accept the deal.”

The president also said Japanese attempts to rewrite World War II history are a stumbling block, and Japan’s efforts to understand Korean people’s sentiment is important, Park said.

In his opening remarks, Moon said he is confident he and Abe can do many things to develop bilateral relations. “There are difficult issues between the two countries,” he said, “but we must face them directly and pragmatically develop bilateral relations as a future-oriented partnership.”

Nikai expressed support for the idea that politicians of the two countries must cooperate to improve the bilateral ties. Moon also told Nikai that he wants to meet with Abe in a bilateral summit on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in July.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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