Mid-ranking officials from Korea and Japan met Wednesday to resolve the issue of women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.
This is the first time the two countries held an official meeting with the topic as the main agenda.
Lee Sang-deok, director general of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of Foreign Ministry, and his Japanese counterpart Junichi Ihara met in Seoul.
The two agreed that the issue should be resolved quickly, but they failed to agree on details on how to do so. They did, however, agree to hold regular talks once a month. The next meeting will be in Tokyo.
A government official here said, "The meeting went on for two hours solely on the issue of sex slavery victims. But due to a considerable gap between the two sides, it will not be resolved in just one or two meetings."
The Korean government emphasized that the matter should be resolved in a way that convinces the victims. The survivors have repeatedly demanded the Japanese government admit its wartime atrocities and issue an official apology. They have also demanded compensation, and that Japanese schools must teach the atrocities so they are never repeated.
Japan insists that all compensation claims were settled by a lump sum paid under a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties.
But amid a rightward lurch since Abe's inauguration, the Japanese government refused to cooperate with Korea despite requests from Seoul. But just before a three-way summit of Korea, Japan, and the U.S. in late March, it expressed willingness to "cooperate diligently."