Japan, S.Korea agree to maintain communication

Senior foreign ministry officials of Japan and South Korea have agreed to maintain communication between foreign affairs authorities on both sides to restore healthy bilateral relations.

Head of Japan's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Funakoshi Takehiro and South Korea's director general for Asian and Pacific affairs, Lee Sang-ryol, met in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Monday.

The Japanese side says Funakoshi acknowledged that relations have been strained by different views on matters including issues surrounding those referred to as wartime comfort women.

On the issue of wartime labor, Funakoshi reiterated Japan's demand that Seoul come up with a solution that can be accepted by Japan soon.

He also referred to the latest development in connection to the Takeshima Islands. The head of South Korea's national police agency visited the islands last week.

South Korea controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says South Korea is illegally occupying them.

Funakoshi said the visit was totally unacceptable from the standpoint of Japan's consistent position on the matter and called for an appropriate response from Seoul.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry says Lee stressed that Seoul can by no means accept any Japanese claims on this matter.

Funakoshi and Lee agreed that foreign affairs officials on both sides will maintain communication with the aim of restoring healthy relations.

Funakoshi also spoke with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs.

The officials reportedly reconfirmed that their countries and the United States will work closely on issues concerning North Korea.