South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Wednesday that he might have an opportunity to meet with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi at the Munich Security Conference to be held on February 17 through 19. The South Korean government revealed its plan to hold a high-level meeting to bridge differences regarding compensation for the victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial period. It is garnering attention if the South Korean and Japanese ministers will be able to close differences regarding the issue of the participation of Japanese war criminal companies who should be held accountable for compensating the victims of Japan’s forced labor in the fund raised by an organization under the South Korean government.
“We will try to find a reasonable solution through continuous discussions with Japan with integrity in mind,” Foreign Minister Park said to correspondents at Incheon International Airport on his way to the U.S. for a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State on Wednesday. “We have continued discussions with Japan based on integrity. We also listened to the opinions of the forced labor victims and related people,” he said. “We shared such information with Japan and asked for Japan’s meaningful response.”
Prior to Foreign Minister Park’s visit to Germany, a vice-minister-level meeting will be held between South Korea and Japan. South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong will meet separately with his Japanese counterpart Takeo Mori during a multilateral meeting to discuss current issues, including the forced labor issue. It was reported that the two countries have had a series of director-level meetings and found common ground in Japan’s apology. However, there are still some differences in whether Japanese war criminal companies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Nippon Steel, will participate in fundraising. This issue will be escalated to foreign ministers and vice ministers, who will try to address some differences regarding key contentious points.
Regarding a potential summit meeting between the two countries in March, Park said there is nothing confirmed yet. It seemed that he was being prudent as the resolution of the forced labor issue took priority.
Jin-Woo Shin firstname.lastname@example.org