South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Sun Joun Yung told his Japanese counterpart, Shunji Yanai, that his country wants to forge a new relationship with Japan by resolving contentious historical issues when President Kim Dae Jung visits Japan this fall, Foreign Ministry officials said.
Sun did not mention the issues in any detail, but they are widely expected to include “comfort women,” the South Korean women who were enslaved and forced to provide sex to Japanese troops by the Imperial army during World War II.
Yanai said Kim’s visit is historically significant, adding that Japan hopes to establish a solid relationship with South Korea during the occasion, the officials said.
Yanai and Sun, meanwhile, agreed Japan and South Korea will cooperate in wrapping up a financial issue involving an international project to build two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea, ministry officials said.
Ambassadors from South Korea, Japan, the United States and the European Union — the combined executive board of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization — met Monday and Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the $4.6 billion project but could not agree how the construction costs would be shared.
Yanai told Sun the burden-sharing issue should be resolved at the next meeting, which is scheduled for the middle of this month in New York, because Japan needs to get Diet approval to make a contribution, the officials said.
South Korea will pay for 70 percent of the project and Japan will contribute $1 billion. The remaining gap of about $400 million needs to be filled, but the U.S. and the EU are reluctant to contribute.
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