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South Korean President Kim Young Sam is to arrive in Japan Jan. 25 for talks with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, and officials are hoping the discussions will focus on the future rather than the bitter disputes over World War II-related issues.Foreign Ministry officials expect they will focus on developing relations between South Korea and Japan. They will also talk about the situation in North Korea, instead of the issue of military sex slaves that dominated media attention during a recent ministerial meeting.Kim and Hashimoto will hold two days of talks at a famous hot spring resort in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, a setting designed to give the two leaders a relaxed setting for their meeting. It will be the fourth meeting between the two leaders in the last year.Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda said in his Diet speech that there are still some areas of concern in relations with South Korea, and that promoting favorable ties is essential. Ikeda flew to Seoul last week to lay the groundwork for Kim’s visit, but his South Korean counterpart, Yoo Chong Ha, severely criticized the Japanese government for allowing a private fund to start payment of solatium money to a group of South Korean women who had been sent to frontline brothels before and during World War II as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.Many victims and their supporters have rejected the offer from the Japanese government-initiated Asian Women’s Fund, calling on Tokyo to pay state compensation on its own.

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