A task force set up by the South Korean government for reviewing the country’s agreement with Japan over the issue of so-called “comfort women” has submitted its report to the administration of President Moon Jae-in.

The report points out some problems with the negotiations and characterizes the deal as an “unbalanced agreement” that is disadvantageous for South Korea.

The document as a whole reflects the political agenda of the Moon administration, which wants to highlight policy mistakes and failures of the previous administration of former President Park Geun-hye.

It should be said that the review has been designed mainly as a political attempt to play to the gallery at home for placating the masses disgruntled about the agreement.

The Moon administration plans to work out its official position on the issue taking the report into consideration.

We urge Seoul to make wise decisions that respect the significance of the agreement, which supports the current relationship between the two countries.

The review was made by a team of experts in both the public and private sectors working under the direct supervision of Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

The report claims the administration at that time failed to pay sufficient attention to the voices of former comfort women, who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. The document also says the negotiations were held behind closed doors and led to secret agreements between Tokyo and Seoul.

The report focuses on flaws in the previous administration’s approach to the negotiations instead of criticism about Japan’s demands. It argues that the public's discontent with the agreement is a natural consequence of these problems.

The report indicates that the Moon administration is facing a sticky political dilemma. It wishes to improve the country’s ties with Japan but is also concerned about public opinion about the issue.

But Moon himself promised a review of the agreement during his campaign in the presidential election this spring. As the country's leader, he now should demonstrate a commitment to developing and pursuing a reasonable and realistic foreign policy.

Needless to say, no diplomatically negotiated deal is based solely on the demands of one side. The diplomatic challenge of finding common ground is especially formidable for touchy, longstanding issues like that of the comfort women.

The 2015 pact is a promise made by both countries through strenuous efforts to overcome the challenges and make difficult compromises.

The core objective of the agreement is to restore the honor and dignity of former comfort women.

The Moon administration should announce its commitment to the agreement and work with the Japanese government in making steady efforts to heal their spiritual wounds.

As for the statue of a girl symbolizing comfort women set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the Moon administration should do more to persuade the civic groups involved to allow it to be relocated.

The Japanese government also needs to make fresh efforts concerning the issue. Despite the agreement, Tokyo cannot expect the historical views about the issue shared by the two governments to be quickly understood and accepted by the South Korean public.

A South Korean foundation established according to the agreement has started handing out cash to former comfort women, and more than 70 percent of the eligible women have expressed their intentions to accept the money.

A person involved in the matter says they made the tough decision while struggling with various thoughts and feelings.

To ensure the development of the bilateral relationship, the Japanese government needs to consider what more it can do and take action.

If the two governments want to make the agreement a solid foundation for truly irreversible progress toward better bilateral ties, they both have to continue behaving in a constructive way that promotes the cause.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 28