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Diplomats of S. Korea, Japan hold working-level talks on wartime history, trade

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Diplomats of South Korea and Japan held working-level talks in Seoul on Thursday to discuss a protracted row surrounding the issue of Tokyo's wartime forced labor, the foreign ministry said.

Kim Jung-han, director-general for Asia and Pacific affairs, met with his Japanese counterpart, Shigeki Takizaki, who arrived in Seoul earlier in the day for the talks. The two last held talks in San Francisco in January.

"We will discuss various things between the two countries," Takizaki told reporters as he entered the foreign ministry building, adding that the new coronavirus could also be on the agenda.

Seoul and Tokyo have held a series of talks to resolve the row that intensified after Japan imposed export restrictions against Seoul last year in protest of South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of wartime forced labor.

But little progress has been made as the two sides remain far apart. South Korea wants Japan to retract the export controls, saying that the wartime issues cannot proceed without respecting the top court's decisions on the victims.

Japan has insisted all reparation issues regarding the 1910-45 colonial period were settled in a 1965 accord that normalized their ties.

During a press conference earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha warned that Seoul could revive its now-suspended decision to end a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan unless Tokyo does withdraws the export restrictions.

The South had earlier decided to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in a tit-for-tat move against the export curbs but put the termination decision on hold at the last minute in November after Japan agreed to resolve the row through negotiations.

Kang also made it clear that the government is not in the position to intervene in or predict the victims' plan to liquidate Japanese firms' local assets as a way to get compensation, but has to prepare for every possible scenario.

"If the assets were liquidated, the government's diplomatic strategy and response cannot help but change," she said. (Yonhap)



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