Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met in Bangkok on the sidelines of an international forum as bilateral relations sour over various issues.
The two top diplomats exchanged handshakes as they sat down for talks on Thursday morning, but looked stern and said nothing to reporters.
South Korea's Supreme Court has ordered Japanese companies to compensate those who claim they were forced to work for those firms during World War Two.
Japan maintains that the issue of the right to seek compensation for wartime labor was settled by a 1965 agreement that was reached when the two countries normalized diplomatic ties.
Japan has asked South Korea to set up an arbitration panel on the matter based on the agreement, but Seoul has ignored the request.
Kono is thought to have reiterated the demand that South Korea immediately correct the situation as it violates international law.
Kono is also believed to have explained that Japan's tightening of screening on exports to South Korea was due to national security reasons.
The two foreign ministers will be joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday at the earliest for a discussion on the regional security framework and North Korea.