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SOUTH KOREAN President Moon Jae In assured citizens today that, whatever Japan may say, the wartime sex slave issue is not over.
In a speech marking a national holiday commemorating Korean resistance to Japanese occupation, President Moon said that Japan cannot declare the issue to have been relegated to history, insisting that Tokyo must apologise and confront its wrongdoings.
"As the perpetrator, the Japanese government shouldn't say: 'It's over'," he insisted.
"Wartime crimes against humanity can't be swept under the rug by saying: 'it's over'."
The scandal of what Tokyo refers to euphemistically as “comfort women,” those forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops, is a sensitive issue for all Koreans.
Park Geun Hye, President Moon's ousted predecessor, negotiated a deal in 2015 under which Seoul promised not to raise the issue again, while Japan paid 1 billion yen (£6.8 million) to a foundation supporting the victims.
Tokyo fell short of taking legal responsibility for Japan's actions and Mr Moon condemned the deal as "wrongful" and urged Japan to make a "heartfelt apology.”
"The true way of resolving a tragic history is to remember that history and to learn from it," he said.
He also expressed hopes for strong future relations "with the closest neighbour on the backdrop of a sincere apology.”
Tokyo government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said this “goes against the Japan-South Korea agreement.
“We cannot accept it at all and feel it is extremely regrettable. We immediately conveyed our stance and made a strong protest to the South Korean side through diplomatic channels.”
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