Japan, S. Korea remain apart over wartime compensation issue

18-Feb-2019 Intellasia | Mainichi | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Japan and South Korea remained apart Friday as their foreign ministers made little progress in efforts to address escalating tensions over wartime issues, at a time when they need to cooperate toward the denuclearisation of North Korea.

“We hope (South Korea) will draw a conclusion as early as possible so that the situation will not escalate further,” Japanese Foreign minister Taro Kono told his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha during their meeting in Munich, Germany, where they attended a security forum.

The meeting came hours after lawyers representing South Koreans demanding compensation for wartime labour from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. declared in Tokyo they will soon start the process of liquidating the Japanese firm’s seized assets.

South Korea’s Supreme Court has ordered some Japanese companies to pay compensation for wartime forced labour.

Kono expressed Japan’s concern over the development, again requesting that Seoul accept Tokyo’s call for intergovernmental talks on the issue, a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official told reporters after the meeting.

The official did not elaborate on how the South Korean side reacted to Kono’s demand at the meeting.

Japan regards the rulings as a breach of a 1965 bilateral pact that settled the issue of compensation “finally and completely.”

Since the last meeting of the foreign ministers three weeks ago on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, bilateral ties have worsened.

South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee Sang’s recent call for an apology from Emperor Akihito to resolve a dispute over women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels has created further friction.

In Friday’s meeting, Kono conveyed Japan’s protest to the Moon’s words.

Japan and South Korea signed an agreement in 2015 aimed at “finally and irreversibly” settling the “comfort women” issue, with Tokyo funding a foundation meant to help the victims.

But South Korean President Moon Jae In’s administration, formed after the signing of the agreement, said the deal could not settle the issue as it did not reflect the opinions of the surviving victims. Seoul decided late last year to dissolve the foundation.

On North Korea, Kono and Kang confirmed the importance of bilateral and trilateral cooperation with the United States in the run-up to the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slated for February 27 to 28 in Vietnam.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190216/p2g/00m/0na/004000c

 


Category: Japan

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