Japan, South Korea agree to seek speedy resolution of wartime labor problem

The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea agreed on Monday that the two nations would continue talks for an early resolution of the issue of wartime workers’ compensation.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that he and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin welcomed working talks on the issue when they met in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting. of the United Nations General Assembly.

As for a possible summit between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol when they are both in New York, Hayashi said: “Nothing has been decided yet”, without specifying whether the issue was raised during their interviews. .

Seoul had said the two leaders were planning a meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday in the US city.

The foreign ministers’ meeting came as South Korea considers how to deal with the issue of court orders to liquidate assets in the country seized from two Japanese companies that had been sued for alleged forced labor during colonial rule. Japan from 1910-1945 on the Korean Peninsula.

Companies have failed to comply with compensation orders as Tokyo maintains that all claims arising from its colonial rule, including compensation for Koreans forced to work, have been settled ‘fully and finally’ under an agreement bilateral agreement signed in 1965.

A public-private advisory body was set up in July as Yoon’s government sought to prevent the liquidation of Japanese companies’ assets in hopes of averting a further deterioration in bilateral relations.

Yoon won the presidential election in March as the candidate for the main conservative opposition party by pledging to take a forward-looking approach to relations with Tokyo. In May, he replaced Moon Jae In, who saw Tokyo-Seoul relations fall to their lowest level in years when he was in power from 2017.

After the launch of the new South Korean government, there are growing expectations that a summit between Kishida and Yoon could lead to better bilateral relations. The summit would be the first in-person talks between the leaders of the two East Asian countries since December 2019.

In June, Kishida and Yoon met in person in Madrid for the first time as leaders of their respective nations, attending a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as partners from Asia- Peaceful. But they spoke only briefly on the sidelines of the rally.

Since Park took over as foreign minister after the president’s inauguration, he and Hayashi have met frequently, speaking in Phnom Penh in early August and in Tokyo in mid-July.

On the security front, Hayashi and Park pledged to intensify their bilateral and trilateral defense cooperation involving the United States to counter North Korea, which repeatedly tested ballistic missiles earlier in the year at the disregard for UN Security Council resolutions.

Concerns are growing over the possibility of Pyongyang carrying out its seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since September 2017, as the country has completed the necessary preparations.

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