No progress in talks to resolve sex slave issue: official

September 18, 2015
Lee Sang-deok, director-general of the Northeast Asian affairs bureau at South Korea`s foreign ministry, answers reporters` questions at Japan`s foreign ministry in Tokyo on Sept. 18, 2015, after holding talks with Junichi Ihara, director-general of Asian and Oceanian Affairs bureau at the foreign ministry, over Tokyo`s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. (Yonhap)

Lee Sang-deok, director-general of the Northeast Asian affairs bureau at South Korea`s foreign ministry, answers reporters` questions at Japan`s foreign ministry in Tokyo on Sept. 18, 2015, after holding talks with Junichi Ihara, director-general of Asian and Oceanian Affairs bureau at the foreign ministry, over Tokyo`s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. (Yonhap)

TOKYO (Yonhap) — Talks to resolve a pending dispute over Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II ended with no progress Friday, South Korea’s chief delegate to the negotiations said.

The two countries held their ninth round of talks to settle the issue of the so-called “comfort women,” but agreed only to continue efforts to find a solution, according to Lee Sang-deok, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asian affairs bureau.

The comfort women issue has been a major thorn in relations between the neighboring countries. South Korea demands Japan acknowledge state responsibility for the past sexual enslavement of Korean women and offer proper compensation, while Tokyo insists the matter was settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral ties.

Historians say more than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during the war. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

In his talks with Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs bureau at Japan’s foreign ministry, Lee said the two sides also discussed a possible meeting between their foreign ministers later this month.

“The South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers agreed during their talks in Tokyo on June 21 to meet regularly on the occasion of multilateral events,” he told reporters after coming out of his meeting with Ihara. “In connection with that, we had a useful exchange of views on the issue of holding a foreign ministerial meeting between South Korea and Japan during upcoming multilateral events.”

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, are expected to meet at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month.

If held, their meeting would come ahead of a trilateral summit involving South Korea, China and Japan scheduled for later this year.

A specific schedule for the summit has yet to be fixed, although President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed earlier this month to arrange it for a mutually convenient time, including the end of October and the beginning of November.

Lee said the two sides agreed to make efforts to hold another round of talks on the comfort women issue in October.

In an interview with the Washington Post in June, Park said relevant negotiations were “in the final stage,” but she did not elaborate.

 

 

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