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Foreign ministers of S. Korea, Japan may meet next week amid sex slavery row

All News 15:56 January 11, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and Japan may meet next week on the sidelines of a multilateral forum in Canada, the foreign ministry said Thursday, amid deepening friction over Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.

Both Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono are scheduled to attend a meeting in Vancouver of ministers from countries which fought alongside South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. Japan, which did not participate in the war, has been invited to the so-called Vancouver Group meeting.

"It is a diplomatic practice for attendees to have diverse bilateral contact during such multilateral gatherings as the Vancouver meeting," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told a regular press briefing. "I think there is a possibility that necessary arrangement efforts will be made."

The long-standing issue of wartime sexual slavery has recently resurfaced to strain ties between the two neighbors as Seoul has concluded that a 2015 deal aimed at settling the dispute is seriously flawed.

Under the deal reached on Dec. 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan agreed to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the so-called comfort women issue. Tokyo apologized and pledged 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) to a foundation dedicated to supporting the victims.

The deal, however, prompted strong criticism from victims and civic groups who claim that Japan's apology was not sincere enough and that the government did not consult with them in advance.

Wrapping up its months-long review of the deal reached by its predecessor, the government on Tuesday demanded additional steps from Japan, including a heartfelt apology, aimed at healing their wounds and regaining dignity. It also vowed to prepare its own money to help the victims instead of using the funds offered by Japan.

Japan has called on South Korea to faithfully carry out the government-to-government deal. It also rejected Seoul's latest demands.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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