Japan to press S. Korea to remove sex slave statues

Tokyo, Jan 8: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated he will urge South Korea to remove statues symbolising those referred to as "comfort women".

In an NHK TV programme on Sunday, Abe referred to the statue of a seated girl that was installed in front of the Japanese Consulate General in the South Korean port city of Busan last month.

He indicated he would call for its removal, along with another in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

Abe said both governments have confirmed that a 2015 bilateral agreement resolved the "comfort women" -- women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II -- issue finally and irreversibly.

He said Japan has been sincerely carrying out its obligations under the agreement and has contributed $8.5 million dollars, to a South Korean foundation supporting former comfort women.

Abe said South Korea needs to fulfil its own obligations. He said honouring the agreement is a matter of national credibility, even if the government changes.