Koreans and Japanese split on ‘comfort women’ deal

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Koreans and Japanese split on ‘comfort women’ deal

More than seven in 10 South Koreans and two in 10 Japanese believe their governments should renegotiate a 2015 agreement on compensating Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, according to a survey released Thursday.

The poll was jointly conducted by the Hankook Ilbo in Seoul and Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo from June 22 to 24 to gauge public opinion on a landmark agreement to compensate the so-called comfort women who were recruited by the Japanese military to provide sexual services during World War II and set up a Japanese-funded Reconciliation and Healing Foundation to compensate the victims.

Calls for renegotiation of the agreement surfaced after South Korean President Moon Jae-in described the deal signed under the previous administration as “seriously flawed” and decided not to use the Japanese funds worth $9.1 million.

In the survey, 91 percent of South Korean respondents said Japan should offer a further apology, but only 14 percent of Japanese respondents said their government should.

Likewise, 73 percent of South Koreans called for renegotiation of the deal, whereas only 23 percent of Japanese thought it should be renegotiated.

The continued establishment of comfort women statues in South Korea and the United States was supported by 80 percent of South Koreans and 5 percent of Japanese.

Only 20 percent of South Koreans and 38 percent of Japanese said they could trust the other country, while 24 percent of South Koreans and 40 percent of Japanese expressed friendly feelings toward the other side.

The people of both countries also demonstrated strong distrust of the other’s leader, with 21 percent of Japanese trusting President Moon and 5 percent of South Koreans trusting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a rare consensus, however, most of the respondents - 66 percent of South Koreans and 83 percent of Japanese - said denuclearization was unlikely to occur in North Korea in the near future.

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