Japan, South Korea Foreign Ministers Meet on Sidelines of Munich Security

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin, from left, stand together during their meeting at the Munich Security Conference in Munich on Saturday.

TOKYO (Reuters) — Japan’s foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met his South Korean counterpart Park Jin on Saturday and reiterated the need for continued communications between the two countries to return to a “healthy relationship.”

Meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, the two foreign ministers agreed to “close communications between the two countries on each diplomatic level to resolve issues of concern,” a statement released by the Japanese foreign ministry said.

They also had a “frank” discussion about wartime labor issues, an issue that worsened relations after a South Korean court ordered the seizure of assets of Japanese companies accused of not compensating some of their colonial-era laborers, the ministry said.

Tokyo says the issue of compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties and providing South Korea with economic assistance, and has warned of serious repercussions if the orders are enforced.

Japan is considering easing curbs on shipping high-tech materials, which it imposed in 2019 on South Korea over a dispute about Japan’s wartime forced labor by Korean workers, as the neighbors hold a series of talks aimed at solving the dispute, the Sankei newspaper reported in late January.