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Japan raises issue of 'comfort women' with South Korea

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (pictured) met with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday at the G7 ministerial meeting in London. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (pictured) met with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday at the G7 ministerial meeting in London. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Japan urged South Korea to deliver an "appropriate" response amid unresolved compensation claims from former Korean "comfort women" forced to serve in Japan's wartime brothels.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in a bilateral meeting with South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday in London that Seoul must take appropriate measures on the South Korean lawsuit filed on behalf of surviving comfort women -- an issue that has polarized the two countries.

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Motegi said South Korea must come up with "specific solutions" for the issue of reparations for "comfort women" and Korean forced laborers, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

Reparations are the greatest problem in bilateral ties, Tokyo said.

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Motegi's remarks come less than a month after a South Korean court upheld Japanese state immunity and dismissed a lawsuit from the women. The ruling means the compensation claims do not apply to the Japanese government.

The former comfort women and South Korean activists have said for years justice would not be served until Japan directly pays damages for "sex slaves" who were beaten and raped as young women and girls in wartime.

Tokyo and Seoul in 2015 agreed to an $8.3 million compensation plan, but some women rejected the offer because the funds were from private sources. Japan also has said all liability was covered under a 1965 agreement that normalized ties and granted economic aid to Seoul.

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Motegi and Chung met for the first time since Chung began his term as foreign minister in February.

The two diplomats also met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Group of Seven, or G7, ministerial gathering in London.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the three sides "reaffirmed their commitment to concerted trilateral cooperation toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

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"They also agreed on the imperative of fully implementing relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions by U.N. member states, including North Korea, preventing proliferation, and cooperating to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Price said.

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