South Korea, Japan to Hold Rare Official Talks on "Comfort Women"
April 13, 2014 10:18 PM EST
Participants carry the portraits of Korean women who were made sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II, during a requiem ceremony for former comfort woman Lee Yong-nyeo in central Seoul
Ties between the two close U.S. allies have long been poisoned by what South Korea consider Japan's failure to atone for its wartime past, including the issue of so-called comfort women, forced to work in Japanese brothels.
The talks on Wednesday will be held a week or so before U.S. President Barack Obama will visit both countries. Obama brought together the leaders of the East Asian neighbours last month in the Netherlands.
Japan reportedly wanted the upcoming talks to include other issues including overlapping claims to some islands and North Korea, but South Korea's Yonhap news agency said they had agreed to focus on the "comfort women" as South Korea insisted.
Japan says the matter of compensation for the women was settled under a 1965 treaty establishing diplomatic ties. In 1995, Japan set up a fund to make payments to the women from private contributions, but South Korea says that was not official and therefore, insufficient.
South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the two sides had agreed to more talks at various levels later.
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