Abe arrives in Estonia on 1st leg of European tour

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo Japan

"We hope Japan addresses the concerns of its Asian neighbors and the global community, and properly handles relevant issues with a responsible attitude", Lu said.

His remarks came after President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday also called the 2015 deal "unsatisfactory" and demanded Japan accept historical truth and offer a honest apology to the victims in a nationally televised press conference.

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.

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

Abe also meets Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Juri Ratas to discuss EU-Japan relations and bilateral trade.

Seoul is not seeking to renegotiate the agreement, which the two sides had said would "finally and irreversibly" end the feud if both sides stuck to it. The Japan-South Korea deal was a promise between countries.

Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula and the "comfort women" issue is especially touchy.

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

He added that the issue will only be resolved if "Japan accepts the truth, makes a heartfelt apology to the victims, learns the lessons from it and prevents its recurrence".

Moon invited Abe to attend the PyeongChang Olympics to be held here next month, but he will reportedly not attend the opening ceremony in what could be a sign of Japan's unease over latest developments regarding the deal.

The victims' resistance and negative public sentiment toward the deal led the liberal government to order a thorough review of the accord, and a public-private task force concluded that the deal, signed under former President Park Geun-hye, had procedural flaws. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary later played down the report, saying it was not yet decided.

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