Japan, S.Korea senior-level talks likely included wartime labor issue

Senior officials from Japan and South Korea's foreign ministries are believed to have exchanged opinions on the issue of wartime labor.

Funakoshi Takehiro, who heads the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and South Korea's director general for Asia and Pacific affairs, Seo Min-jung, held talks for about 90 minutes in Tokyo on Monday.

They are believed to have discussed a proposal presented by South Korea to resolve outstanding concerns on the issue of wartime labor.

The plan calls for a public foundation to offer payments to the plaintiffs in wartime labor lawsuits in place of Japanese companies that have been ordered to pay damages by South Korea's Supreme Court. The foundation is a public service corporation set up under a South Korean ministry in 2014 based on a special law.

The Japanese government maintains that any right to claims was settled completely and finally in 1965, when Japan and South Korea normalized ties.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa held phone talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin after Seoul presented the proposal last week.

The vice president of Japan's main governing Liberal Democratic Party, Aso Taro, has also exchanged opinions with South Korean lawmaker Chung Jin-suk, who heads the South Korea-Japan parliamentarians' union.

Some people in South Korea oppose the new proposal, saying that Japan must apologize and pay compensation.

The Japanese government plans to ascertain whether the South Korean side can coordinate differences in domestic opinions to present the proposal as an official solution.