Japan and South Korea failed to find common ground Friday over Tokyo's controversial proposal to have historical industrial sites put on UNESCO's World Heritage list, a move Seoul is attempting to block as they include places where Koreans were forced to toil after being shipped over during Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

In a three-hour meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Japanese officials lobbied for the proposal to list 23 assets in eight prefectures, but Seoul remained skeptical due to their "negative (wartime) legacy," according to a Japanese official.

In seeking the sites' preservation under World Heritage status, Tokyo argues that the value of the sites lies in the fact they exemplify Japan's Meiji Era industrial revolution, which is viewed as the world's first successful example of industrialization outside the West. The revolution was achieved over a short span of about 50 years from the 1850s to 1910, it says.