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Abe leaves for Baltic and E.European tour

12 January 2018

"I want to confirm our cooperation on North Korean and other urgent issues the worldwide community faces", Abe told reporters before he left.

However, Moon said in December that the wartime sexual slavery issue can not be resolved by the 2015 deal with Japan, as a secret agreement was found between the two countries after reviewing the procedure of the deal.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday urged Japan to deal with the comfort women issue responsibly. It said it would consult with Japan on what to do with the funds already given by the country.

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"We can by no means accept South Korea's unilateral request for additional measures".

Despite a recent cooling of tensions in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Shinzo Abe has insisted on "maximising pressure" on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes. Following Moon's remarks, the Japanese government reportedly filed a formal protest with the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo.

Seoul, while maintaining it will not seek to renegotiate the deal, said it will plan to match the 1 billion yen ($8.98 million) paid by the Japanese government under the deal, with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying that it will decide how to use Japan's contribution. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his participation in the games would depend on his parliamentary schedule.

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Adding that the comfort women issue has been dug up over and over again for "domestic political gain", he cited that historians have found that South Korean soldiers were culpable of raping Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War, as he called this an "uncomfortable truth" that Seoul has glossed over. They have demanded the deal be invalidated, saying the government did not consult with them in advance and Japan's apology was not honest.

The re-emergence of a long-simmering issue has poured cold water over improving bilateral ties, as the two United States allies seek closer cooperation to cope with regional security threats such as North Korea. He has pursued a "two track" approach of separating historical issues from current affairs to build a "future-oriented" relationship with Japan.

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Abe leaves for Baltic and E.European tour