Despite the first face-to-face conversation between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in more than a year, substantial improvement in deeply frayed bilateral ties is unlikely, scholars say.

While Moon stressed the need to resolve outstanding bilateral issues through dialogue in what Seoul called a “very friendly and serious” meeting with Abe on Monday in Thailand, the scholars point out there are no signs of a concession by either side over the key issue of wartime labor compensation.

"Tokyo-Seoul relations could deteriorate further as neither Abe nor Moon would want to run the risk" of provoking a backlash at home by making compromises, said Yuki Asaba, a professor of Korean politics at Doshisha University in Kyoto.