Japan on Tuesday called for “concrete proposals” from South Korea to resolve persisting “historical issues” between the two countries.
“It's difficult to make a judgment solely based on the South Korean side's statement that it wants to resolve issues [with Japan],” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a news conference, according to Kyodo News.
“I want to make a judgment after seeing concrete proposals by the South Korean side.”
His remarks came a day after South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for a diplomatic solution to issues related to Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.
Moon, in his New Year news conference, stressed the need for a two-track approach “separating historical issues from efforts to forge future-oriented bilateral ties.”
Diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Seoul have been at an all-time low over the past few years, following South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during the colonial era.
Earlier this month, a court in Seoul ruled that Tokyo must give 100 million won ($91,300) each to 12 women – euphemistically labeled “comfort women” – who were abducted and kept in Japanese brothels during World War II.
Tokyo maintains that all claims related to its 35-year rule over the Korean Peninsula were settled under a 1965 bilateral agreement.
On the “comfort women” dispute, it urged Seoul to “take measures to correct violations of international law.”
Japan said the matter was resolved through a 2015 agreement with Seoul, under which Tokyo paid $9.1 million for the establishment of a foundation dedicated to supporting wartime sex slavery victims.
South Korea, however, disbanded the foundation last year, with President Moon’s administration saying the deal signed during his predecessor Park Geun-hye’s tenure was “seriously flawed.”
The move angered Tokyo, which views the agreement as “final and irreversible.”
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