‘Comfort women’ issue raised in rare talks between Park Geun-hye and Tokyo governor

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye met Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe at the Blue House in Seoul on Friday and Park lost wasted no time in raising the issue of wartime comfort women

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 9:39am

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye held a rare meeting with a Japanese politician yesterday as she received visiting Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe despite a virtual freeze in diplomatic ties.

Masuzoe made a courtesy call at the presidential Blue House, which Park used to reiterate Seoul's demand that Tokyo make proper redress for grievances related to its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

In particular she highlighted the plight of so-called "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, the Blue House said. "The issue of comfort women is not merely a bilateral one, but an issue related with general human rights," Park was quoted as saying.

"Improper statements by politicians, especially over historical issues, add to the difficulties in bilateral relations."

Park expressed regret that ordinary people from the two countries "may be farther apart psychologically due to political difficulties" even though they had got along well in the past.

The meeting was Park's first with a Japanese politician since a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama in March in the Netherlands.

Relations have nosedived over views on wartime history and the ownership of various islets. Abe has not held summit talks with Park since she took office in February last year. Abe became prime minister for the second time in December 2012.

Masuzoe, who had proposed his meeting with Park, gave the South Korean leader Abe's message that the Japanese leader hoped to improve relations.

But neither Masuzoe nor Park touched on the feasibility of a meeting between Abe and Park, the Tokyo governor said.

Additional reporting by Kyodo