SEOUL, South Korea was poised to have

working-level consultations with Japan on Thursday to discuss their strained relations over historical issues.

Kim Yong-kil, director general for Northeast Asian affairs at Seoul’s foreign ministry, plans to meet with his counterpart, Kenji Kanasugi, in Seoul later in the day, according to Kim’s ministry.

The Japanese official is expected to reiterate Tokyo’s call for a formal “diplomatic session” to discuss a dispute over Japan’s reparations for wartime atrocities.

Last year, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during World War II.

In January, a South Korean court approved the seizure of local assets from Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp., which refuses to follow the ruling.

A group of other victims are also seeking seizure of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s assets as well.

The Moon Jae-in administration of South Korea said it respects the judiciary’s decision. But the Japanese government has fiercely protested the move, claiming all reparations related to its 1910-45 colonization of Korea have been settled in a state-to-state accord in 1965 to normalize bilateral ties.

Japanese officials have demanded separate discussions to address the matter, while South Korea remains cautious, saying it’s reviewing Tokyo’s request closely in consideration of “various factors.”

Speaking at a parliamentary session earlier this week, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso signaled a push for economic retaliation against Seoul if it goes ahead with the seizure of the company assets.

He cited the possibility of visa issuance and money transfers.

South Korea said it’s still committed to a dual-track approach toward the neighboring country: trying to improve bilateral ties and strengthen security cooperation while striving to resolve the history issue.

“Even if Japan talks about economic retaliation, our stance is to keep moving on dual tracks,” a senior foreign ministry official said.

Source: Yonhap news Agency