Japan, S.korea Begin Bureau Chief - Level Talks


Japan, S.Korea begin bureau chief-level talks

Japan and South Korea have held diplomatic bureau chief-level talks in Japan in an attempt to ease strained bilateral relations.

Talks between the Director-General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Shigeki Takizaki, and his counterpart, Kim Jung-han, began at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo at around 9 a.m. on Friday.

It was Takizaki's first meeting with his South Korean counterpart since he assumed his post earlier this month.

Kim, who is director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, told reporters before the meeting that he hopes to exchange views on a broad range of issues of mutual interest.

The Japanese side likely urged South Korea to rectify a breach of international law over a wartime labor issue. It is also expected to have reiterated that South Korea should offer concrete proposals to resolve the issue.

Last year, South Korea's supreme court ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to South Koreans who said they were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

The Japanese government says the compensation issue was settled in a 1965 agreement. That agreement stipulates that any dispute should be settled through dialogue, but South Korea has so far refused to sit down for talks.

Japan's tightening of controls on exports to South Korea is also expected to have been on agenda. South Korea has sharply reacted to the move.

The two sides are also likely to have arranged foreign ministerial-level talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly now under way in New York.