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(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan agree on stronger cooperation over N.K. sanctions

2016/02/01 22:35

(ATTN: UPDATES with meeting between S. Korean official and Japanese envoy)

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan agreed Monday to step up cooperation as the U.N. Security Council prepares to punish North Korea for its fourth nuclear test, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida spoke by phone to discuss the U.N.'s response to the Jan. 6 nuclear test and possibilities of another long-range missile launch by the North, the ministry said in a press release.

"Minister Yun and Minister Kishida agreed to strengthen consultations between South Korea and Japan through their permanent missions to the U.N. and other channels for the U.N. Security Council's adoption of a strong and effective sanctions resolution," it said.

During their 40-minute conversation, the two sides also agreed to actively seek other measures to put pressure on the North, including through unilateral sanctions.

On the possibility of the North's missile launch, South Korea, Japan and the U.S., as well as other relevant nations should maintain close consultations as they draw up necessary countermeasures, the ministers noted.

Kishida expressed support for South Korea's proposal for five-party talks within the framework of the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North. The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have been stalled since 2008. Five-party talks would exclude the North.

Yun and Kishida agreed to hold close consultations on the matter through various channels, the ministry said.

It was the second time the two ministers have spoken on the phone since the North's nuclear test.

Yun also stressed the importance of faithfully carrying out the terms of December's landmark deal aimed at resolving the issue of the Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II, the ministry said.

Under the December deal, Japan apologized and 1 billion yen (US$8.29 million) in reparations will be funded by the country. South Korea agreed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fully implements the deal.

Also Monday, Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam met with Tokyo's top envoy to Seoul, Koro Bessho, at the ministry and said Japan should not engage in any actions or comments that run counter to the spirit of the deal.

Japan has recently denied the forced nature of its military's sex slavery of Asian women during World War II in a written answer to questions from a U.N. committee.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.