Japan, S.Korea agree on need for dialogue to resolve feud on wartime labour
(Adds S.Korea comment; paragraphs 5,8,9,12)
By Hyonhee Shin and Ami Miyazaki
TOKYO/SEOUL, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Japan and South Korea on
Wednesday agreed on the need for dialogue to resolve a feud over
compensating Korean wartime workers that has spilled into trade,
and put a deep chill on ties between Washington's two biggest
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, speaking after talks
with South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha, said both sides
shared that view over the dispute, which is a bitter legacy of
Japan's 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula.
"In that sense, I want to firmly make progress towards
resolving (this matter)," Kono said outside the Chinese capital
of Beijing, in comments carried live on Japanese public
"I think the fact that we ... were able to talk in this
difficult situation could lead to big progress towards resolving
this problem," Kono said. "I want to stay in close touch and
continue to talk."
A South Korean official said both sides reiterated their
positions but the meeting was meaningful in restoring diplomatic
dialogue and reaffirming the need to keep talking, South Korea's
Yonhap news agency said.
Relations soured after the South Korean Supreme Court
ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Korean wartime workers
last October, a move strongly condemned by Tokyo, which says the
matter was resolved by a 1965 treaty normalising ties.
The feud has spilled over into trade, after Japan tightened
export controls on materials vital to South Korean chipmakers
and then dropped Seoul from a list of countries eligible for
fast-track exports, prompting South Korea to take a similar step
The number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan fell last
month to its lowest in nearly a year, amid a far-reaching
boycott of Japanese products and services, from cars to beer and
Kang again urged that Japan's tightened controls be eased,
and relayed concerns about media reports and international
environmental groups' claims that Japan plans to release
contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the
ocean, Yonhap said.
Kono also said Japan wanted Seoul and Tokyo to maintain a
military intelligence-sharing pact that could expire if South
Korea decides not to roll it over this week.
"This is an important framework for the United States, Japan
and South Korea and ... should be maintained," Kono said, adding
that he had discussed the intelligence pact with Kang.
Though Kang declined to comment after the meeting whether
South Korea would renew the deal, Kim Sang-jo, policy chief of
President Moon Jae-in, said on Wednesday that Seoul would
continue consideration "until the last minute".
Kono urged both China and South Korea to scrap their import
curbs on produce from areas around Japan's Fukushima nuclear
disaster site, where three reactors suffered melt downs after an
earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Seoul said on Wednesday it would double radiation testing of
some Japanese food imports, for fear of contamination from the
An official of Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries said Japanese food products were safe and increased
radiation testing was unnecessary.
(Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Simon
First Published: 2019-08-21 09:30:02
Updated 2019-08-21 12:05:04
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