Channel NewsAsia

Japan, S Korean FMs to meet after freeze in ties

Japan and South Korea expected to hold rare talks on Saturday (Aug 9); last official meeting between the two foreign ministers was in September last year in New York.

NAY PYI TAW: Japan and South Korea are expected to hold rare talks Saturday (Aug 9), diplomatic sources said, in a potential ice-breaking meeting following a collapse in relations.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to meet his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se on the eve of a regional security dialogue in the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw, Japanese diplomatic sources said. "The bilateral meeting between Japan and ROK (South Korea)... will be conducted," on Saturday afternoon, a source who requested anonymity told AFP.

The last official meeting between the two foreign ministers was in September last year in New York.

A summit between the leaders of the two nations in March, brokered by US President Barack Obama, failed to dampen the rancour between the neighbours, which stems from disputes related to Japan's 1910-45 rule over the Korean peninsula. They include a territorial row over a tiny batch of rocky islets and Seoul's demands for further reparations for Korean women -- so called "comfort women" -- forced to work as sex slaves in Japanese World War II military brothels.

Japan has long maintained that all issues relating to the colonial period were settled under a 1965 bilateral treaty that normalised diplomatic ties with South Korea. But in a sign of the depth of the antipathy, on Tuesday Seoul's foreign ministry issued a statement branding Japan's claim to the islands "ludicrous" and "unacceptable".

The rift is a source of increasing anxiety for the United States, whose strategic "pivot" to Asia is on a more fragile footing with its two main military allies in the region barely on speaking terms.

Both Japan and South Korean ministers are in Myanmar to attend Sunday's ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), an annual security dialogue. The meeting will bring together foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and key partners, including China, India, Russia, the US and the European Union.