Tokyo and Seoul may be breathing sighs of relief — even if it is just for the time being — after Friday's surprise announcement by South Korea to retain a key intelligence-sharing pact. But the issue at the heart of strained bilateral ties — wartime labor — remains far from being resolved.

And experts point out that bilateral relations still face a rocky road ahead in overcoming the two sides' long-standing antagonism over history.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi appears to be well aware of the bleak prospect of a full detente. When he faced reporters Friday night, he did so without any hint of a smile.