Korea urged Japan on Friday to resolve a long-running grievance regarding aging Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, pressing Tokyo to take "fundamental measures" for the victims.
The issue was discussed in detail when South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young held talks with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae in Seoul earlier in the day, Seoul officials said.
During the talks, Ahn called on Japan to "take fundamental measures that are acceptable to the victims as the issue is one of the most important pending issues between the two nations," a senior ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
Ahn also urged Japan to "have genuine courage and wisdom to develop the bilateral partnership in a future-oriented way while looking squarely at its past wrongdoings," the official said.
It was not immediately known how Sasae responded, but the official said the talks did not resolve basic differences between the two nations over the issue.
According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line Japanese military brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. Those sex slaves were euphemistically called "comfort women."
The issue is one of the most emotional and unresolved issues between South Korea and Japan.
South Korea has pressed Japan to resolve the issue through apology and compensation for the aging Korean women on a humanitarian level, but Tokyo refuses to do so, saying the matter was already settled by a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two countries.
Time is running out as the surviving victims are elderly and may soon pass away. Currently, only 63 Korean victims are alive. (Yonhap)