South Korea and Japan are seeking to hold a strategic dialogue between their vice foreign ministers in the foreseeable future to discuss an array of bilateral issues, government sources said Wednesday.
The two countries are in discussions to set the date and agenda for the talks amid frayed bilateral ties aggravated by Japan’s stance on historical grievances and its territorial claims to Seoul’s easternmost islands of Dokdo, the sources said.
If held, it would mark the first Seoul-Tokyo strategic dialogue since South Korean President Park Geun-hye took office in February 2013.
The two countries had initially planned to hold such discussions in December last year, but the talks have been suspended since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, considered a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.
The strategic dialogue among the two countries was launched in 2005 with the aim of discussing long-term security and bilateral issues.
Seoul-Tokyo relations have reached their lowest ebb in recent years due to Japan’s attempts to gloss over its wartime atrocities such as sex slavery and its territorial claims to the Dokdo islets.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan. South Korea was under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
President Park called for Japanese leaders’ determination to start a new future with South Korea by facing up to history and taking forward-looking measures to address the grievances of South Korean women who were coerced into sexual slavery for Japan’s soldiers during World War II.
Seoul and Tokyo are widely expected to hold a new round of talks early next month on the issue of sex slavery during World War II. (Yonhap)