South Korea on Thursday proposed holding talks with Japan over wartime sex slaves, an issue that has long proved an irritant in relations between the two countries, according to Yonhap news agency.
The Foreign Ministry called in Nobukatsu Kanehara, Japan's deputy chief of mission in Seoul, and delivered the proposal to the Japanese government, ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.
Yonhap said the move comes after the Constitutional Court ruled late last month that it is unconstitutional for Seoul to not take any action over the dispute between the victims, who were forced to serve Japan's military, and Tokyo, which refuses to compensate them.
Historians say more than 200,000 women from Korea and other countries were forced to work as “comfort women” in military brothels used by Japanese troops during the war.
Japan has apologized for the military’s involvement in crimes against the women but insists the offenses were committed privately rather than on behalf of the state.
Tokyo has claimed that all issues regarding the colonial rule have been settled in a compensation deal in 1965 when the two countries agreed to normalize relations.
Cho was quoted by Yonhap as saying, "For the time being, we will focus on making diplomatic efforts to arrange the bilateral consultations."© 2011 AFP