Japan has urged South Korea to respond “appropriate” in the face of pending compensation demands from former Korean “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s wartime brothels.
In a bilateral meeting with South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday in London, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that Seoul would take effective action in response to the South Korean lawsuit brought on behalf of surviving comfort women, a problem that has divided the two nations.
According to Kyodo News, Motegi said that South Korea must find “specific solutions” to the problem of reparations for “comfort women” and Korean forced labourers Wednesday.
Reparations are the greatest problem in bilateral ties, Tokyo said.
Motegi’s comments came less than a month after a South Korean court affirmed Japan’s state immunity and dismissed the women’s complaint. According to the decision, the compensation demands do not extend to the Japanese government.
Former comfort women and South Korean campaigners have said for years that justice will not be done until Japan actually offers compensation to “sex slaves” who were beaten and raped as young women and girls during WWII.
In 2015, Tokyo and Seoul committed to a $8.3 million payout package, but some women turned it down because the funds came from private sources. Japan has also stated that all responsibility is protected by a 1965 agreement that stabilised relations and granted Seoul economic assistance.
Chung and Motegi met for the first time since Chung took office as foreign minister in February.
On the sidelines of the Group of Seven, or G7, ministerial meeting in London on Wednesday, the two diplomats also met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The three sides “reaffirmed their commitment to concerted trilateral cooperation towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” according to US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“They also agreed on the imperative of fully implementing relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions by U.N. member states, including North Korea, preventing proliferation, and cooperating to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Price said.