The Japanese government has officially requested talks with South Korea about the possibility of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attending the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, an official from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.
"The Japanese Embassy in South Korea made an official request this morning to discuss Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to South Korea," the official told reporters, asking not to be identified.
The request follows weeks of speculation that the Japanese leader may boycott the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, citing his objections to what he has called an unacceptable attempt by Seoul to undermine a 2015 settlement on Japan's sexual slavery of Korean women during World War II.
Under the controversial deal, Seoul's former conservative government agreed to "finally and irreversibly" end the decades-old dispute in exchange for 10 billion yen (US$9.07 million), along with Japan's sincere apology to thousands of Korean victims.
The Moon Jae-in administration has declared the deal flawed but said it will not seek to renegotiate the terms of the defective agreement. The 10 billion yen, designed to support the Korean victims, however, will be replaced by Seoul's own funds, with the initial money provided by Japan set to be deposited, possibly for Japan to withdraw.
The PyeongChang event is slated for Feb. 9-25, with the Paralympic Games scheduled to be held from March 9-18.