Photo/IllutrationForeign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Seventy-five percent of South Koreans say the issue of “comfort women” has yet to be resolved despite the 2015 Tokyo-Seoul agreement described as a “final and irreversible resolution,” a survey showed.

That compares with the 53 percent of Japanese who feel the contentious issue has not been resolved, indicating a gap in perceptions between the two nations.

As for the agreement, 25 percent of Japanese citizens disapprove of it while 55 percent of South Koreans disagree with it, according to the fifth Japan-South Korea joint opinion poll, released July 21 by the Genron NPO, a Japanese nonprofit think tank, and the East Asia Institute, a South Korean think tank.

The annual survey asked Korean respondents for the reason for disapproval, allowing them to give multiple answers. The largest number, 77 percent, said they disapproved because the agreement was struck without reflecting the views of former comfort women, who were forced to provide sex for the Japanese military before and during World War II.

Meanwhile, when Japanese respondents were asked “how do the Japanese view South Korea’s disapproval of the agreement,” the largest number, 49 percent of the respondents, said it was “not understandable,” because “both Japan and South Korea should respect and follow the agreement.”

In addition, 22 percent said they were “not sure why South Koreans are unsatisfied with this agreement,” suggesting about 70 percent of the Japanese respondents did not understand South Korean’s disapproval of the agreement.

The survey also shows 14 percent “did not know about the agreement nor the fact that there are unsatisfied South Koreans.”

Regarding Japan and South Korea relations in comparison with the 2013 survey results, 26 percent of South Korean respondents have a “good impression” of Japan, up from 12 percent in the 2013 poll.

Those who have a “bad impression” of Japan plummeted from 76 percent to 56 percent.

The survey also shows “reasons behind each other’s impressions.”

The respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers when being asked the reason.

Seventy-four percent said they have a good impression of Japan “because Japanese people are kind and earnest,” while 80 percent said they have a bad impression of Japan “because Japan has not properly reflected on its history of invading South Korea,” which were the largest numbers, respectively.

On the other hand, Japanese people’s favorability rating of the neighboring country has been on the decline as Japanese respondents having a “good impression” of South Korea dropped from 31 percent to 26 percent while those who have a “bad impression” of South Korea rose from 37 percent to 48 percent.

Under the landmark agreement to resolve the long-festering issue of comfort women, Japan pledged to provide 1 billion yen ($8.94 million) to support former comfort women in light of the imperial Japanese military’s responsibility for its involvement in the comfort women system.

Tokyo believes that South Korea has accepted the removal of a controversial comfort women statue set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul as a precondition for the Japanese funding. South Korea, however, only said it “will make efforts to resolve the issue in an appropriate manner by holding discussions with the related organization.”

Meanwhile, another comfort women statue has been set up in front of the Japanese consulate-general in Busan.

The annual joint survey was conducted in June and July. The Genron NPO and the East Asia Institute received valid responses from about 1,000 Japanese and South Koreans aged 18 and over, respectively.

The survey, which started in 2013, was designed to gauge the state of mutual understanding and perception of each other between Japanese and South Korean citizens to contribute to reducing misunderstandings and to promote mutual understanding between the countries.