Japan, South Korea agree to seek early settlement of wartime labor issue

Baku, July 19, AZERTAC

The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea agreed Monday they will seek an early settlement of a dispute over the issue of compensation demands from South Koreans about wartime labor that has frayed bilateral relations, according to Kyodo News.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin reached the agreement in a meeting in Tokyo, the first formal sit-down between them since South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration on May 10, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Tokyo has called on Seoul to avoid the liquidation of assets seized from the companies, warning of a serious consequence to the bilateral relationship.

A Japanese government official told reporters that Japan's government has a recognition that the liquidation is imminent.

The issue of Koreans forced to work as comfort women in Japan's military brothels was also discussed at the meeting, which lasted about two and a half hours, according to the official.

The two ministers exchanged views on how to develop "future-oriented" relations, it said.

Hayashi and Park also agreed to boost trilateral cooperation with the United States over North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs, the Japanese ministry said.

The two ministers also discussed the operation of a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact, known as GSOMIA, which was on the brink of termination during the Moon administration, a South Korean government official said, without providing details.

The top diplomats did not discuss arranging a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Yoon, both having expressed a strong desire to prevent ties from deteriorating further, according to the Japanese official.

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