Japan on Friday rejected South Korea’s suggestion that Tokyo should do more to help “comfort women”, a euphemism for women who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military, Reuters reported. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rather urged Seoul to adhere to the pact that the two countries had signed on the matter in 2015.

In 2015, Japan had apologised to the surviving victims and provided them 1 billion yen (approximately Rs 54.5 crore) to help heal their “psychological wounds”. The 2015 agreement was a “promise between the two nations”, Abe said. “We cannot accept South Korea’s unilateral demands for additional measures,” Abe told reporters.

South Korea’s contention is that President Moon Jae-in’s conservative predecessor had failed to secure adequate measures to meet the women’s needs. Surviving victims and activists had also deemed the 2015 deal humiliating, and said they were unhappy with Japan’s refusal to accept formal and legal responsibility for the wartime excesses.

The dispute over the “comfort women”, a euphemism for tens of thousands of Korean women and girls who were coerced into working in Japanese military brothels from 1910 to 1945, has strained ties between the countries for decades.