SEOUL – Japan’s ambassador to South Korea has made comments taken as a step forward on the issue of South Korean women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, according to a recent report by a South Korean newspaper.
The Dong-A Ilbo daily quoted Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho as saying in an interview published Friday that his country expects to hold talks with South Korea on the issue of the so-called comfort women and find a solution through the talks.
Bessho also reportedly said that the Japanese government has never denied the issue exists and does not reject dialogue with South Korea, although there is no scope for proposing a concrete solution.
Tokyo has turned down requests from Seoul for talks on the comfort women issue under the 1965 treaty on basic relations they signed, insisting that any claim to compensation was settled under the pact.
The Dong-A Ilbo cited a South Korean government official as saying that the ambassador’s comments were a step forward from Japan’s position until now.
If Japan shows a sincere attitude, the South Korean government would be able to consider holding a bilateral summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in March in The Hague or on another occasion, the newspaper said.
But a senior official at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul said Bessho’s remarks do not reflect a new position. The official said Bessho’s remarks on bilateral talks were meant to refer to talks not based on the 1965 treaty.
“Different types of talks have been held intermittently and the ambassador has been saying that Japan is looking for a breakthrough via talks,” the official said, adding the government’s stance remains unchanged.