Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan discussed on Thursday a range of conflicting issues, but could not narrow their differences.
During the 50-minute talks, South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong explained the government's stance on Korean victims of wartime forced labor and sex slavery and called for Tokyo to lift its trade restrictions on Seoul as early as possible.
Chung urged his Japanese counterpart to find a solution together and continue diplomatic talks.
Japan's foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi reiterated the Japanese government's earlier stance on those thorny issues.
Japan has been insisting that the compensation issue of those victims was "completely resolved" following the Seoul-Tokyo bilateral treaty in 1965.
Reportedly, there also have been talks about Japan's plan to dump radioactive waste water from Fukushima into the ocean, as well as territorial issues surrounding South Korea's easternmost island of Dokdo.
Their talks came ahead of a leadership change in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The party will elect a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has been hawkish on issues involving South Korea.
Experts say it's unlikely though that bilateral ties will improve even after a new leader is appointed.
"Each candidate running for the LDP leadership has a bit of a different view on South Korea, but basically they all have a quite hardline stance regarding the forced labor and 'comfort women' issues. So, such stance is not likely to dramatically change."
Despite those conflicting issues, the diplomats agreed to work together along with the U.S. on issues related to North Korea and regional peace.
Also discussed were reviving people-to-people exchanges between the two countries once the COVID-19 situation improves.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.