Japan PM beefs up European ties amid N. Korea tensions

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

The row over the comfort women deal will adversely impact Korea-Japan relations at a time when the two countries need to stand united against North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions, said Kim Sung-han, a former vice foreign minister.

Under the deal, South Korea promised not to raise the issue again and Japan transferred 1 billion yen (now $8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.

"Estonia and Japan are separated by thousands of kilometres, but tightly connected by a digital umbilical cord", Ratas said, adding that "Japan will soon become a contributing participant with regard to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, which is located in Tallinn". "Japan should accept the truth, make a heartfelt apology to victims". And Japan, increasingly anxious about digital threats from the likes of North Korea and China, is turning to the Baltic state for cooperation in fears of massive harm should such critical infrastructure as nuclear power plants be targeted.

The 2015 agreement was "a promise between the two nations". "It is a universal principle that bilateral agreements are followed", Mr Abe said yesterday.

"This issue can not be resolved through a give-and-take deal between governments struck over the victims' head", he said.

In his first public response to Mr Moon's comments, Mr Abe said yesterday: "Such unilateral demands that Japan take additional steps are absolutely unacceptable".

Another Japanese daily, the Sankei Shimbun, reported a day earlier that Abe had decided he would not attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games.

Japan's foreign ministry press secretary Norio Maruyama told reporters in Tallinn that "step by step we understand which way North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can be a useful entity for Japan and in which area can Japan be useful for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

But tensions are not likely to deteriorate further, given Japan's reaction was not "stronger" than expected, another expert said. 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 agreement was finalised by now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye under pressure from Washington in the face of mounting security threats from North Korea.

President Moon pledged to renegotiate the deal on his campaign trail, but he has also vowed to normalize icy ties with Japan.

Other reports by iNewsToday