SEOUL -- Japan and South Korea failed to make progress on contentious history and trade issues during ministerial talks here.
One of the few points of agreement between visiting Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung-hwan, was that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will visit South Korea on Oct. 18 to meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
Kim called on Genba to start bilateral talks on compensation for Korean women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
South Korea's Constitutional Court said in August that the women's basic rights were violated by the failure of the South Korean government to enter into negotiations with Japan over the right of individuals to seek compensation.
Genba repeated Japan's stance that the issue has been resolved.
Kim also raised the issue during a meeting with Genba in New York on Sept. 24.
The South Korean government plans to present the issue at the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the U.N. General Assembly in coming days.
Women forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers are known by the euphemism "comfort women."
A number of them gathered outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade here on Oct. 6 and demanded an apology and compensation from the Japanese government.
They have been holding meetings in front of the Japanese Embassy on a weekly basis to press their case with the Japanese government. In December, the group will mark its 1,000th protest meeting.
A group of supporters for former comfort women plans to erect a monument in honor of them near the Japanese Embassy. This prompted the Japanese government to express concern to the South Korean government.
Japan and South Korea had hoped the foreign ministers' meeting might ease bilateral strains caused by a territorial dispute over the Takeshima islets, known as Dokdo in Korean, which was highlighted by the way Japan records the issue in school textbooks.
But the two countries remained far apart on other issues, too.
Genba proposed reopening negotiations for an economic partnership agreement at an early date, but Kim said it will take time to create the right environment.
However, the ministers did agree that the two countries will continue bureau chief-level talks to discuss conditions for resuming negotiations at a later date.
Genba and Kim also could not agree on how Japan will hand over ancient Korean royal archives, known as the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, to South Korea. The deadline is December.
Genba asked Lee to visit Japan during a courtesy call before his meeting with Kim. But Lee might not be able to make it over until next year.
There was no disagreement on the need to build future-oriented relations and work together for a resumption of stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear development program.
Japan-South Korea relations were relatively stable after the Democratic Party of Japan took power in 2009. But relations deteriorated while Naoto Kan was prime minister.
(This article was written by Yoshihiro Makino and Ai Matsumura.)
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