TOKYO — South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s focus on the so-called comfort women issue is proving an obstacle to bilateral summit talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

TOKYO — South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s focus on the so-called comfort women issue is proving an obstacle to bilateral summit talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.


Park became ill during the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague and canceled all scheduled events for the nuclear summit on Tuesday afternoon, which left officials preparing for the three-way summit with Japan and the United States worried whether she would be able to attend the talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama.


According to a presidential Blue House spokesperson, she was suffering from extreme fatigue. She joined the summit meeting after receiving an intravenous treatment.


"She must also have felt a kind of pressure as the summit had been the focus of a strong spotlight," an official accompanying Park speculated.


During the summit talks, Park made no mention of issues involving Japan and South Korea at all, including the wartime comfort women issue. It appears as though she accepted the offer for official talks involving Abe out of consideration to Obama, who organized the meeting, and discussed only security issues such as North Korea’s nuclear development program.


One reason that Park sticks to the comfort women issue is a decision handed down by the South Korean Constitutional Court in August 2011. The court ruled that the government is constitutionally required to seek a resolution of the dispute that protects the rights of former comfort women to seek compensation.


Park has also strongly reacted against the Abe administration’s announcement that it would examine the process behind the creation of a 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, dubbed the "Kono statement." The document is considered an official apology by Japan on the comfort women issue.


"It was a good opportunity to demonstrate the unity of Japan, the United States and South Korea on North Korea’s nuclear problem," a South Korean government source praising the three-way summit talks told the Yomiuri Shimbun. "We’d like to closely observe hereafter whether Japan will show a sincere stance on bilateral pending issues such as perceptions of history."