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Fewer than 40 comfort women are still alive in South Korea, and all of them are aged 85 or older.

Seoul said this week that it would not seek to renegotiate the deal, as it had been agreed by both Tokyo and the previous South Korean government.

But it said it would no longer use Japanese money to compensate the survivors.

The current President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in ordered a panel to investigate the agreement.

The deal was negotiated under his predecessor Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by the South Korean Parliament in December 2016 on corruption charges.

"The agreement cannot solve the comfort women issue," Moon said, calling the deal a "political agreement that excludes victims and the public" and violates general principles in international society concerning resolution of historical issues, according to a Blue House statement.

Under the 2015 deal, endorsed by Moon's predecessor and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan apologized to former comfort women and provided 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to help them.

In return for the funding and the apology, South Korea agreed not to criticize Japan on the issue again.