S Korean President defends landmark deal with Japan

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Wednesday defended a landmark deal with Japan over wartime sex slaves, saying her government had tackled a "difficult problem" dodged by her predecessors.

Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Wednesday defended a landmark deal with Japan over wartime sex slaves, saying her government had tackled a "difficult problem" dodged by her predecessors.

Park acknowledged criticism of the deal, which has divided public opinion, but argued that her administration had secured the best possible outcome.

"You can`t always be 100 percent satisfied in negotiations because there are various practical constraints," she told an annual press conference.

Under the deal reached last month, Japan offered an apology and a one-billion yen ($8.3 million) compensation fund for 46 surviving Korean "comfort women" -- those forced to serve in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Both countries described the settlement as "final and irreversible".

But at a weekly protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Wednesday, a group of comfort women said the deal should be scrapped.

"We will not take the money," said 90-year-old Kim Bok-Dong.

The plight of the comfort women is a hugely emotional issue that has marred South Korean ties with Japan for decades, and the December agreement triggered accusations of selling out to Tokyo.

But, with so few of the former sex slaves still alive, Park said the time had come to settle the issue.

"It was a very difficult problem that previous governments had not been able to properly deal with," she said, warning Japanese politicians and media against undermining the deal.

"It is very difficult to convince the public if there are any more remarks that scar the victims," Park said.

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