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S. Korea, Japan continuing to narrow differences over forced labor issue: Vice FM

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 13, 2023 - 09:31

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South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong speaks to reporters after arriving in Washington on Sunday for talks with his US and Japanese counterparts. (Yonhap) South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong speaks to reporters after arriving in Washington on Sunday for talks with his US and Japanese counterparts. (Yonhap)

WASHINGTON-- South Korea and Japan are continuing to consult on ways to resolve their differences over how to resolve the issue of Japan's wartime forced labor, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong said Sunday.

Cho made the remarks after arriving in Washington for a trilateral meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori, as well as bilateral talks with his US and Japanese counterparts.

"We have been consulting for quite some time now, so there are areas where we have narrowed our differences and areas that we have not been able to," he told reporters.

"We would like to reach a conclusion at an early date but cannot definitely say when it will be concluded at this point," Cho added.

Seoul unveiled a plan last month to compensate victims of Japan's wartime forced labor through a public foundation, an alternative to direct compensation to the victims from Japanese firms that had put Korean workers into forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

The victims and their family members, however, have rejected the idea, calling for Japan's sincere apology and direct involvement of the Japanese companies in the compensation process.

"I expect the forced labor issue will likely top the agenda of the bilateral talks with Vice Foreign Minister Mori," said Cho. "However, many consultations are underway and it is hard to predict when we will be able to reach a conclusion."

With regard to his three-way meeting with his US and Japanese counterparts, set to be held Monday, Cho said the countries will discuss regional and global issues such as North Korea's evolving nuclear threat and the war in Ukraine.

"Strengthening US extended deterrence against North Korea's evolving threat is a joint objective of South Korea and the US, and so we will continue to hold consultations to that end," he said. (Yonhap)