Seoul, Oct 16 | South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have agreed to accelerate diplomatic consultations between the two countries to resolve a protracted row over wartime forced labour, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
The two leaders reached the agreement on Friday during their first phone call since Kishida took office last week, as they shared a consensus on the need for developing relations between the two countries in a future-oriented manner, Yonhap News Agency quoted a statement from Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee as saying.
Relations between South Korea and Japan have been stuck in the force labour row for years since Tokyo imposed export curbs against Seoul in 2019 in retaliation against South Korean Supreme Court rulings that Japanese firms should pay compensation to forced labour victims.
Japan has claimed all reparation issues stemming from its 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula were settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two countries, and urged the South to come up with acceptable solutions.
“There are differences in legal interpretations of” the 1965 agreement, Moon was quoted as telling Kishida.
“I believe it would be desirable to pursue a diplomatic solution between the two countries and hope to accelerate consultations and communication between diplomatic authorities.”
Kishida explained Japan’s position and agreed to accelerate diplomatic discussions, the statement said.
Moon also called for Kishida to find a solution for the sexual enslavement of Korean women by Japan’s army during World War II.
According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude in front-line Japanese brothels during World War II, when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.
Moon told Kishida time is running short for the two nations to resolve the wartime sexual slavery issue, saying only 13 registered survivors of Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery are alive in Korea.