Yoon, Kishida vow better South Korea-Japan ties
Kishida during Sunday’s meeting expressed sympathy toward Koreans forced into industrial slavery during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula as the leaders vowed to overcome historical grievances and strengthen cooperation in the face of a nuclear North Korea and other challenges.
The summit, which was the second meeting between the leaders in less than two months, drew a mixed reaction in South Korea. Critics, including Yoon’s liberal opponents who control majority in the National Assembly, said Kishida’s comments fell short of a meaningful apology and accused Yoon of letting Japan off the hook over its past aggressions while pushing to repair bilateral ties.
Others saw the summit as a sign that the two key United States allies are finally moving forward after years of bickering as they step up their three-way partnership with Washington.
After the summit, Yoon said Seoul, Tokyo and Washington are engaging in talks to implement their earlier agreement on a faster exchange of information on North Korean missile tests. Yoon also said he wouldn’t rule out Japan’s possible participation in future nuclear deterrence consultations between Washington and Seoul to better cope with North Korean nuclear threats.
Yoon, Kishida and President Joe Biden are expected to hold a trilateral meeting later this month on the sidelines of the Group of Seven meetings in Hiroshima to discuss North Korea and geopolitical uncertainties created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s assertive foreign policy. While South Korea isn’t a G-7 country, Yoon was invited as one of eight outreach nations.
Meanwhile, the conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest newspaper by circulation, acknowledged that Kishida’s comments were insufficient to ease South Korean frustrations over history but also said that the summit reflected the countries’ “desperate” need for cooperation.
“South Korea and Japan are in need of greater cooperation in the wake of recent events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s maritime assertiveness that threatens its neighbors. The countries’ need to jointly respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats is greater than ever. Moreover, the countries face similar challenges related to their slowing economies and declining populations,” the newspaper said.
“This is not the time to be stuck in the past.” (AP)