Japanese and South Korean governments agreed that the foreign ministers of the two countries would meet in Seoul on Monday to discuss new proposals to resolve a row over the Japanese army’s historical use of sex slaves.
Japanese Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, said on Friday in Tokyo that the talks with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Se, were a very difficult one, but promised to make some progress.
Experts said not less than 200,000 women, many of whom were Koreans, were forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II.
The Korean peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.
Experts said Abe agreed with South Korean President Park Geun Hye in November to speed up talks on the issue.
A government official said on condition of anonymity that government had almost drafted a resolution.
He said the focus was now on whether government could reach an agreement with the South Korean side.
He said one of the new proposals was to expand by as much as 10 times the funds for a government-run programme to help provide medical and welfare care to some of the victims.
“Tokyo is also considering sending letters from Abe to the Korean women in an apparent expression of regret,” he said.
Meanwhile, Japan has demanded that South Korea remove a statue of a girl symbolising the sexual slavery issue erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
Tokyo’s official stance was currently that the issue of compensation was fully settled under a 1965 treaty with Seoul that normalised diplomatic relations.
Many survivors of the wartime brothels have urged Japan to issue an official apology, make reparations and include wartime atrocities in Japanese textbooks.