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Japan, S. Korea foreign ministers likely to meet this month in Paris

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha shake hands at the start of their talks in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 15, 2019. (Pool photo, Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and South Korea are arranging for their foreign ministers to meet later this month on the sidelines of a gathering of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, government sources said Monday.

Taro Kono of Japan and Kang Kyung Wha of South Korea are expected to discuss the issue of compensation for laborers made to work during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula through the end of World War II, as well as recent developments concerning North Korea.

The talks, slated to coincide with an OECD ministerial council meeting to be held in Paris from May 22 to 23, would be their first since they met in mid-February in Munich where they were attending a security forum.

On that occasion, the two remained at odds over the wartime labor issue. Last year, South Korea's top court ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean laborers for forced work, a decision Tokyo has protested as going against a 1965 accord it says settled the issue "finally and completely."

The issue escalated earlier this month after lawyers for the laborers requested to a South Korean court that the companies' seized assets be liquidated.

In the upcoming talks, Kono is expected to repeat calls for Seoul to step in.

On North Korea, the two ministers are expected to discuss its recent launch of short-range ballistic missiles and agree to work with mutual ally the United States toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Kono is also likely to push for South Korea to lift a ban on seafood from Fukushima and seven other Japanese prefectures, despite the World Trade Organization last month ruling in favor of the restrictions imposed in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

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