With no foreseeable prospect of a summit between its leaders, Japan and South Korea must continue to hold talks to address mutually significant issues, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.
“It is true that we have various problems, but we have to overcome such things,” Suga told a news conference after the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers met in Brunei the previous day. “We need to repeat” such contacts to enhance bilateral relations, he added.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida agreed Monday with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, that the two Asian neighbors will strive to improve bilateral ties strained by issues concerning Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula as well as by a territorial dispute.
“I believe this meeting provided the start for building multilayered, future-oriented Japan-South Korea relations,” Kishida told reporters Monday after his first face-to-face talks with his South Korean counterpart on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Brunei on Monday.
It was also the first time in nine months that the foreign ministers of the two countries have held talks.
In an apparent reference to remarks earlier this year by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto seeming to justify Japan’s “comfort women” system of wartime military brothels and their female sex slaves, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement that the definition of “aggression” has yet to be established, regarding the war, Yun raised the issue of Japan’s perception of history.
Kishida explained Japan’s position that in the past it had caused tremendous damage and suffering in many countries, particularly parts of Asia, and that consecutive Japanese governments — including the Abe Cabinet — have humbly acknowledged such historical facts, expressed deep remorse and genuine apologies.
Kishida told Yun that it is important for Japan to gain South Korea’s acceptance of its position and win trust to advance bilateral relations, which they reaffirmed are “very important.”
“We would like (South Korea) to accept (Japan’s) perception and position (on history)” so the two sides can manage Japan-South Korea ties in a smooth fashion, he said.
Kishida quoted Yun as saying that South Korea wants to continue communicating with Japan and building trust with Tokyo.
But the ministers, who met on the sidelines of a regional security forum, fell short of agreeing to resume dialogue between their leaders.
The foreign ministers of Japan and Australia agreed Monday to work closely on tackling the issues of maritime security in the South China Sea as well as North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats as they met on the sidelines of ASEAN-related meetings in Brunei.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr during their 30-minute talk that Tokyo is ready to strengthen economic ties with Australia by forging bilateral and regional free-trade agreements, according to the Foreign Ministry.
With Japan set to join negotiations for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade framework in late July, Carr said Australia, already a member of the talks, is looking forward to Japan’s participation.