Abe arrives in Estonia on 1st leg of European tour

Japan refuses South Korea’s call to do more for ‘comfort women

Seoul's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that the Korea-Japan deal on "comfort women", a euphemism for women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military from the 1930s to the end of World War II, was flawed and failed to resolve the issue. Under the agreement, Japan apologized and paid 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a Korea-run foundation to support the victims in return for Seoul's promise not to raise the issue again in worldwide forums.

Abe told reporters that the trip will further expand Japan's diplomacy.

While Seoul said this week it will not bring the deal back to the drawing board out of respect for bilateral ties, it said the deal had come about the "wrong way" and sought another "heartfelt apology" from Japan.

Abe's six-day tour will also take him to the two other Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania, making him the first Japanese prime minister to visit those countries.

In 2015, the two nations had sought to turn a page on history with the "final and irreversible" comfort women pact, under which Tokyo gave an apology and one billion yen (S$12 million) for a foundation set up to support the Korean comfort women who are still alive. "We want to continue to strongly ask South Korea to do the same".

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The agreement was finalised by now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye under pressure from Washington in the face of mounting security threats from North Korea. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his participation in the games would depend on his parliamentary schedule.

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.

He said that although it was a political agreement, it excluded the victims and ordinary South Koreans.

There were 47 South Korean comfort women at the time the deal was struck, but this figure now stands at 33.

The issue of women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops in World War II has roiled relations between the neighbours - both of them USA allies and both threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea - for decades.

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