Japan, S.korea Fms Discuss Wartime Issues

Japan, S.Korea FMs discuss wartime issues

The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea have held talks amid worsening bilateral relations over wartime issues.

Taro Kono and Kang Kyung-wha met in the German city of Munich on Friday on the sidelines of an international conference.

At the start of the meeting, Kono said bilateral ties face difficulties but that he hoped for candid exchanges with Kang.

He said he wanted to discuss North Korea ahead of its second summit with the US.

Kang agreed that Japan and South Korea have difficulties. She said continuing communications at various diplomatic levels is now even more important.

Kono pressed Kang to hold talks on a wartime labor issue based on a 1965 bilateral agreement on wartime claims.

A ruling has been finalized in South Korea that orders a Japanese steelmaker to pay compensation to South Koreans who say they were forced to work for the company during World War Two.

The plaintiffs seized some of the maker's assets in South Korea and indicated that they will start procedures as early as this month to sell them.

Kang said the government will consider the matter carefully, but did not indicate whether Seoul will enter into talks.
Kono also demanded the retraction of controversial remarks by the speaker of South Korea's National Assembly. Last week, the speaker suggested the issue of those referred to as comfort women would be resolved if Japan's Emperor apologized before abdicating in April.

There was no reply to Kono from South Korea.

The ministers agreed on the need to continue working together with Washington ahead of the US-North Korean summit.