Senior officials from Japan and South Korea met Thursday in Tokyo as part of efforts to improve bilateral relations strained by historical issues related to Japan’s 1910 to 1945 rule of the Korean Peninsula and a territorial dispute over islets in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul calls the East Sea.
Seoul wants Japan to address unresolved matters relating to Korean women who were forced into Japanese military brothels before and during the war. For its part, Tokyo was expected to take up the issue of Korean lawsuits demanding compensation from Japanese companies for wartime conscripted labor, as well as import restrictions on Japanese fishery products imposed by South Korea over the Fukushima disaster.
The meeting involved Junichi Ihara, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, and Lee Sang Deok, director general of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry. It was the second of its kind. The first, on April 16 in Seoul, focused exclusively on the so-called comfort women issue.
Japan maintains that all individual compensation claims by comfort women and labor conscripts were legally resolved by an agreement on the settlement of problems concerning property, claims and economic cooperation the two countries signed at the time of normalizing diplomatic ties in 1965.