By Haejin Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s foreign minister will visit Japan this week to meet her Japanese counterpart, the foreign ministry said on Sunday, with Seoul and Tokyo seeking to boost cooperation over the handling of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
The need to confront the threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests comes despite lingering tension over the issue of sexual slavery during Japan’s wartime occupation of Korea.
Kang Kyung-wha will arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday and meet Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during her two-day visit, her first trip to Japan as South Korea’s top diplomat, the foreign ministry in Seoul said in a statement.
“The two ministers will exchange views on issues of common interests focusing on bilateral relations and North Korea-related issues, including its nuclear programme,” the ministry statement said.
South Korea and Japan are seeking to improve security cooperation over North Korea, but there have been conflicting signals over whether they can resolve a feud over “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.
Ties have been frozen over the issue, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in has promising to renegotiate an unpopular 2015 pact signed with Japan.
Under that pact, Japan apologized again to former comfort women and promised 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) for a fund to help them. The two governments agreed the issue would be “irreversibly resolved” if both fulfilled their obligations.
($1 = 112.5700 yen)
(Reporting by Haejin Choi; Editing by Paul Tait)