Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday said he would attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month amid speculation he might not attend amid a row over the "comfort women" issue.
Abe said he was willing to hold talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and told reporters here that he would reiterate Japan's position regarding a bilateral deal reached between Tokyo and Seoul in 2015 that was supposed to settle the "comfort women" matter.
The Japanese premier's decision to attend the opening ceremony comes after ties between Tokyo and Seoul looked as though they might be turning frosty again.
Moon had stated that while it is "undeniable" that the ("comfort women") deal is an official bilateral agreement, the "erroneous knot" with Japan over the issue must be untied by Tokyo apologizing to the victims.
Abe had rejected South Korea's calls for a sincere apology to the "comfort women" who were forcibly conscripted to work in wartime military brothels, despite evident flaws in a bilateral deal.
Abe's remarks on the issue, the first from the Japanese leader since South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for the apology during a recent New Year's press conference, came despite Seoul not requesting a bilateral deal on the issue be renegotiated.
Under a landmark bilateral deal struck in December 2015 under the government of Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye, both countries agreed that the "comfort women" issue, that had led to diplomatic ties between both countries becoming significantly strained, would be "finally and irreversibly" resolved.
However, Moon said in December that the wartime sexual slavery issue cannot 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.
Moon said at the time that a grave fault was found in procedures and contents of the 2015 negotiations between the two governments proved to be a costly blunder.
He said that although it was a political agreement, it excluded the victims and ordinary South Koreans.