All national dailies reported on Foreign Minister Kono’s meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang on Thursday in Paris, during which Kono reportedly urged Kang to accept Japan’s request for the launch of a three-party arbitration panel on the dispute over the South Korean court orders to Japanese companies to pay compensation to former Korean requisitioned workers. According to the papers, at the outset of their meeting Kono criticized a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson for telling reporters on Thursday that Japanese companies’ compliance with the court order would be unproblematic, saying the remark demonstrates a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation and that comments of this sort are complicating bilateral relations. Kang responded that it is necessary for Japan to make efforts to heal the victims’ wounds, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry. Sankei wrote that it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Moon on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka in June.
In a related development Asahi wrote that although the ROK government is looking into the idea of establishing a fund to compensate former Korean requisitioned workers, the GOJ is unlikely to agree to the idea. The paper quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga as telling reporters on Thursday that Japan has heard nothing from South Korea about the alleged plan and that Tokyo will strongly urge Seoul to agree to Japan’s request for arbitration.
The papers wrote that the two top diplomats also discussed the situation surrounding the DPRK and South Korea’s ban on seafood from Fukushima and seven other Japanese prefectures.