S.Korea envoy suggests moves to break deadlock

South Korea's ambassador to Japan has suggested that there are moves in his country to break the deadlock over issues concerning the two countries' shared history.

Nam Gwan-pyo delivered a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday about the current state of bilateral ties and their future.

Nam commented on the South Korean government's decision last week to maintain the GSOMIA intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. He said he is certain that this will be a starting point for the two countries' ties to improve.

He indicated he hopes to see dialogue between the two governments become active again, including summit meetings.

Nam said that now is the time to consider creating a system for an overall resolution of historical issues to prevent further deterioration of bilateral ties. He added that such efforts are underway in South Korea, but he did not give further details.

Bilateral ties have deteriorated since late last year, when South Korea's top court ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to former workers from the Korean Peninsula during the Second World War. Japan maintains that any questions of damages had been settled by a bilateral treaty in 1965, when the two countries normalized ties.

Discussions have begun in South Korea over a bill put forward by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang to set up a fund to compensate such former workers and those referred to as comfort women.

The fund would rely on donations from Japanese and South Korean businesses, and money Japan's government paid after the two sides agreed in late 2015 that the issue of comfort women had been finally and irreversibly resolved.

The South Korean ambassador did not refer directly to the bill in his speech.