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S. Korea, Japan to hold working-level talks amid tensions over Tokyo's seafood inspections

All Headlines 16:48 June 04, 2019

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan will hold working-level diplomatic talks in Tokyo this week, an official at Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday, amid brewing tensions over Tokyo's toughened inspections of South Korean fishery products.

Kim Jung-han, the ministry's director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs, will meet Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan's foreign ministry, on Wednesday.

Starting Saturday, the Japanese government tightened its scrutiny of flatfish and other South Korean marine products, triggering speculation that the inspections may be a tit-for-tat measure against Seoul's restrictions on Japanese seafood imports imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

Seoul's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young urged Tokyo to not use the toughened inspection scheme as a "disguised discriminatory measure" against South Korean seafood during a courtesy call by Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nakamine last Friday.

During Wednesday's talks, the two sides are also expected to discuss the possibility of a summit between President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit slated to take place in Osaka on June 28-29.

They could also touch on Tokyo's recent request to form an arbitration panel, involving a third-country member, to discuss Japan's wartime forced labor.

Seoul and Tokyo have clashed over the issue stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula, as Japan has protested South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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