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Japan senior vice foreign minister to visit S. Korea May 1-2.

TOKYO, April 27 Kyodo

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki will make a two-day visit to South Korea from next Monday to hold talks with officials there including South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon, in a bid to mend their nations' strained ties, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said Thursday.

Shiozaki is expected to discuss a bilateral dispute involving the South Korea-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan after South Korea planned to name seafloor topography near the islets and a meeting possibly in May to demarcate their exclusive economic zones in the waters near the islets.

South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun's special statement on South Korea's relations with Japan is also likely to be taken up during Shiozaki's trip, the officials said.

Roh in his hard-hitting statement Tuesday blasted Japan's claim to a group of South Korea-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan as ''intolerable.''

The islets -- known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea -- are located in an area of the Sea of Japan, called the East Sea by South Korea, in which the exclusive economic zones that they each claim overlap.

Japan and South Korea averted a confrontation last Saturday by agreeing to Japan's withdrawal of a plan to conduct a maritime survey near the islets in return for South Korea's agreement to delay its topography naming plan. Tokyo came up with the survey plan in response to the South Korean naming plan.

To prevent a similar recurrence, the two countries agreed to resume talks as early as in May on demarcating their EEZ in the waters near the islets. Such talks have been suspended since 2000.

Shiozaki is also scheduled to exchange opinions on issues related to North Korea including past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents in the hope of establishing closer cooperation with South Korea, according to the officials.

South Korea says many of its nationals had also been abducted by North Korea.

The abduction issue took a new turn following a recent revelation that the husband of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota may well be a South Korean named Kim Young Nam, also abducted to the North.

The revelation, based on DNA analyses, has brought the families of Japanese abductees and their supporters to seek closer cooperation with South Korea in a bid to step up efforts to resolve the abduction issue.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 1, 2006
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