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Japan-South Korea rift

Japan, South Korea foreign ministers meet on sidelines of Munich conference

Japan's foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, met his South Korean counterpart Park Jin on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference (Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met his South Korean counterpart Park Jin on Saturday and reiterated the need for continued communications between the two countries to return to a "healthy relationship".

Meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, the two foreign ministers agreed to "close communications between the two countries on each diplomatic level to resolve issues of concern", a statement released by the Japanese foreign ministry said.

They also had a "frank" discussion about wartime labour issues, an issue that worsened relations after a South Korean court ordered the seizure of assets of Japanese companies accused of not compensating some of their colonial-era labourers, the ministry said.

Tokyo says the issue of compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties and providing South Korea with economic assistance, and has warned of serious repercussions if the orders are enforced.

Japan is considering easing curbs on shipping high-tech materials, which it imposed in 2019 on South Korea over a dispute about Japan's wartime forced labour by Korean workers, as the neighbours hold a series of talks aimed at solving the dispute, the Sankei newspaper reported in late January.

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