"The tension between two countries that should be jointly confronting North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s spreading influence prompted Washington to mediate an agreement in December 2015 in which Japan apologized and promised $8.3 million to care for the surviving women. The deal was meant to be a “final and irreversible resolution” to the matter.
But many Koreans, including some of the surviving women, felt the deal fell far short of their demand that Japan accept legal responsibility and offer formal reparations. On Dec. 28, the first anniversary of the agreement, Korean activists installed another statue, this one in front of the Japanese Consulate in Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. The local government immediately removed it, but then relented under acute public pressure.
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On Friday, Japan recalled its ambassador to South Korea and suspended negotiations over an arrangement to help Seoul stabilize its currency, along with other high-level economic talks.