S. Korea's Park welcomes Abe's vow not to retract sex slave apology

South Korean President Park Geun Hye welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assurance that his administration will not retract Japan's 1993 apology for forcing women into sexual slavery during World War II.

Seoul is "glad" about Abe's remark during Friday's session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee that "I'm not thinking about revising (the statement) under my Cabinet," she was quoted as saying by a presidential spokesman.

Park was also quoted as expressing hope that Abe's remark will be the start of stronger relations between South Korea and Japan, as well as relations among countries in Northeast Asia.

The apology, known as the Kono statement after then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged for the first time the Japanese military's role in coercing women, mostly Koreans, to provide sex for its soldiers before and during World War II.

Relations between the neighboring countries have soured recently due to the "comfort women" issue as well as a territorial row over islets in the Sea of Japan.