SEOUL/New York, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign minister has called on Japan to resolve the issue of South Korean women forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II, the foreign ministry said Friday.
As many as 200,000 Asian women, mostly Koreans, were believed to have been mobilized as sex slaves during World War II. The issue has been a long-standing dispute between the two neighbors, which is now driving a wedge between them.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se made the call during his 50-minute talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in New York on Thursday (U.S. time) on the sidelines of their visits to the United Nations National Assembly session, the ministry said.
The meeting was arranged as the two neighbors' relations are unusually icy because of the Abe administration's nationalistic attempts to whitewash the country's past wartime atrocities and renewed claim to Dokdo, South Korea's easternmost islets.
Seoul has repeatedly called on Tokyo to settle some elderly South Korean women's demands that Japan apologize and compensate them for forcing them to serve at front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Indirectly repeating the call, Yun said, during the talks in New York, "President Park Geun-hye stressed in her liberation day speech that she wants the Japanese government to show brave leadership to resolve history issues in order to help achieve prosperity and development in the Northeast Asian region."
The Japanese foreign minister, however, did not react to the remarks, according to ministry officials. Kishida only responded by saying, "We hope the Winter Olympics in South Korea's Pyeongchang as well as the Summer Olympics in Japan are successfully hosted."
The chilly exchange between the two ministers dashed hopes that the neighbors would start to mend ties in the bilateral meeting. Speculations had been raised that the ministers may arrange the first summit talks between South Korea's President Park and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The South Korean ministry said that Yun stressed that appropriate measures should be speedily taken in order to heal 201the pain and wounds of those who suffered from Japan's war atrocities.
The minister made it clear to the Japanese side that his country will not tolerate any attempts to distort history, and accurate history awareness should be the basis for Seoul-Tokyo relations, according to the statement released by the ministry.
Both ministers shared their intention to continue communications in various channels, it said.
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