The Korea Herald


Seoul, Tokyo to hold summit Oct. 19


Published : Oct. 6, 2011 - 16:31

    • Link copied

S. Korean foreign minister reiterates call for talks on wartime sex slaves

Leaders of South Korea and Japan will hold a summit meeting Oct. 19 to discuss bilateral ties and other pending issues, Japanese foreign minister told a press conference in Seoul on Thursday.

Foreign ministers of Seoul and Tokyo agreed on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visiting South Korea on Oct. 18 and meeting with President Lee Myung-bak the following day, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said.

Noda, who also took office last month, is considering swiftly returning more than 1,200 volumes of ancient Korean royal archives that Japan took during its colonial rule, officials here have said.

Gemba, who arrived in Seoul earlier Thursday, held a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan, sharing views on how to strengthen bilateral ties and deal with North Korea’s denuclearization issue.

Seoul’s foreign minister said he “repeated the importance of officially discussing” a proper apology and compensation for the Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, a longstanding thorny issue between the two sides.

“I reminded Minister Gemba that this was a humanitarian, women’s rights-related issue that must be dealt with promptly, especially considering the old age of most of the victims,” Kim told the joint press conference for Korean reporters and Japanese correspondents here.

Gemba refrained from commenting on the issue, saying his government “has maintained an unchanging position” on the issue. Tokyo has unofficially rejected several times Seoul’s proposal, claiming the issue has been fully settled via a 1965 bilateral pact.

Despite their decades-long close diplomatic and economic cooperation, South Korea and Japan have often seen their relations sour due to their history especially regarding Japanese colonial rule.

Tokyo has for years glorified its wartime past in textbooks and refused to formally make amends regarding the euphemistically called “comfort women,” often providing a stumbling block to mending ties with Korea, which was victim of its 1910-45 colonial rule.

At least 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II, according to historians.

The two sides also “closely discussed” North Korean nuclear issues during their talks, the ministers said.

“We reaffirmed our united position that the six-party talks can resume upon North Korea’s action related to denuclearization,” Kim said.

South Korea and Japan are also parties to the stalled six-nation talks aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization. The two sides share a view that the dialogue, also involving the U.S., China and Russia, should not restart unless Pyongyang demonstrates its will to denuclearize itself.

Gemba, who was scheduled to leave Seoul on Friday, expressed high hopes of active diplomatic exchanges.

“I hope to meet with Minister Kim very often, possibly over a drink, and talk candidly over various issues,” he said.

It was Gemba’s first trip to Seoul since he took office last month.

By Shin Hae-in (