Japan's PM Abe says 'comfort women' deal heralds new era in relations with South Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking to reporters after South Korea and Japan reached an agreement on the "comfort women" issue, at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Dec 28, 2015.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking to reporters after South Korea and Japan reached an agreement on the "comfort women" issue, at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Dec 28, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS/KYODO

TOKYO (AFP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (Dec 28) that a landmark agreement between Japan and South Korea on the issue of wartime sex slaves heralds a "new era" in relations between the two countries.

"Japan and South Korea will welcome a new era," Mr Abe told reporters after speaking by phone with South Korean President Park Geun Hye. "Both countries will cooperate together to open" it, he added.

The two countries reached the agreement on the thorny issue of wartime sex slaves - known euphemistically as "comfort women" - that has long soured relations, with Tokyo offering survivors a 1 billion yen (S$11.7 million) payment.

 

"We were able to reach a final and irreversible resolution in the year marking the 70th anniversary" of the end of World War II and the end of Japan's colonisation of the Korean peninsula, Mr Abe said in remarks shown live on national broadcaster NHK.

"We cannot force our children, grandchildren, and children of our future generations to shoulder the fate by which they have to keep apologising," he added.

Read the full text of the landmark deal here.