ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Japan-South Korea rift

Japan and South Korea to maintain dialogue, though no solution in sight

Foreign ministers talk trade and wartime labor amid worsening tensions

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, appears with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha ahead of their meeting in Beijing on Wednesday. The two officials earlier in the day held a trilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. (Korea Pool/Yonhap/AP)

BEIJING/TOKYO -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, on Wednesday had a bilateral meeting on the outskirts of Beijing, but the two countries could not make any significant progress to settle issues related to wartime labor and export controls.

The most controversial item on the meeting's agenda was related to a recent judgement by South Korea's Supreme Court, which ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation for laborers forced to work during World War II. Relations between Tokyo and Seoul have sunk to their lowest point in years, following a series of South Korean court decisions.

Kono argues that the wartime labor issue is South Korea's responsibility and he called on Seoul to take immediate measures to correct the current situation, which Japan considers a violation of international law.

Meanwhile, the two countries agreed to maintain dialogue to resolve the issue.

"Even in such a difficult situation, I think we can work toward a solution by having these very close discussions," Kono said after the meeting.

Seoul, meanwhile, has criticized Tokyo's decision to tighten trade controls on South Korea, saying the measures are retaliation and go against the spirit of free trade. Kang asked Japan to remove its export restrictions.

Kono maintained that the matter should be left in the hands of each country's office of export administration, saying, "(Japan's) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is open to talk if it fulfills certain conditions." Kono also expressed his concerns over rising anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea.

The South Korean government declined to offer information about the extension of a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact called the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which will expire Aug. 24.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media