TOKYO: Speaking over the phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio urged Moon to take action to resolve the wartime labor issue between the neighboring nations.
But Moon only replied that his country and Japan have different legal interpretations on the matter, according to sources who had access to Kishida’s first talks as prime minister with the South Korean head.
After the 35-minute conversation, Kishida told reporters that the Japan-South Korea relationship “continues to be in a very difficult situation.”
“I will call for appropriate South Korean moves to restore sound bilateral relations,” he stressed.
According to officials of the Japanese and South Korean governments, Moon expressed hope that the issue will be resolved diplomatically, and the two leaders agreed to promote communication between them.
A South Korean district court last month issued the first-ever ruling ordering the sale of a Japanese company’s assets in the country in a damages lawsuit over wartime labor.
If the process to sell the seized assets actually starts, that would definitely lead to further deterioration in the Japan-South Korea ties, pundits said.
Meanwhile, Kishida and Moon agreed to enhance bilateral and trilateral cooperation also involving the United States in scrapping North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs.
When Kishida sought Seoul’s support for resolving the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents decades ago, Moon showed understanding of Tokyo’s stance, the officials said.