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Korea arranging to hold meeting with Japan's newly tapped FM

South Korea's foreign minister is expected to meet the newly tapped top diplomat of Japan at the upcoming meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss bilateral ties, regional and global issues, her office said Thursday.

Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tapped Taro Kono as a replacement for Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. He is the son of Yohei Kono, known for issuing a landmark 1993 apology as chief cabinet secretary for Japan's sexual slavery of women during World War II.

This photo released by AFP on Aug. 3, 2017, shows Taro Kono arriving at a government office in Tokyo. (Yonhap)
This photo released by AFP on Aug. 3, 2017, shows Taro Kono arriving at a government office in Tokyo. (Yonhap)

"We are fine-tuning a foreign ministerial meeting with Japan, expecting that Kono will attend the ARF," Cho June-hyuck, foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will leave for Manila, the Philippines, on Saturday to attend ASEAN meetings, which will kick off Sunday.

The ARF, which is slated for Monday, stands for the ASEAN Regional Forum, a major regional security meeting attended by 27 countries, including the 10 ASEAN members, along with South Korea, North Korea, the United States, China and Japan.

Cho said that Kang will soon send a congratulatory message to the new Japanese foreign minister and call for efforts for a more "matured" cooperative relationship between the two countries going forward.

South Korea and Japan have seen their ties frayed due to the long-running rift over Tokyo's wartime sexual slavery of Korean women.

The two neighbors reached a deal in late 2015 to resolve the so-called issue of comfort women. Under the deal, Japan made an apology and paid money to help the victims and the two promised to resolve the issue once and for all.

However, in the face of criticism that the deal was hastily made under the impeached Park Geun-hye government without sufficient efforts to gain support from the victims, the current Moon Jae-in government is reviewing its procedural legitimacy.

Seoul's foreign ministry earlier launched a task force that will lead the reviewing efforts. Japan is adamant that what was agreed in the deal should be respected and fully enforced.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945. (Yonhap)

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