South Korean president says Japan summit would be ‘pointless’


South Korean President Park Geun-hye is painting a bleak picture of current and future ties with Japan, even though Tokyo should be a key ally in Seoul’s efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.

In an interview with the BBC, Park suggested that a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be pointless given Japan’s refusal to apologize for its “past wrongdoings.”

Abuses carried out during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule remain a source of deep anger and resentment in South Korea, particularly the treatment of women forced to work as “comfort women” in wartime Japanese military brothels.

Outrage at Japan’s perceived reluctance to show sincere remorse and offer adequate reparations has been compounded by the territorial rift over the rocky islets in the Sea of Japan known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

“None of these cases have been resolved or addressed,” Park said in the interview broadcast Monday ahead of her upcoming state visit to Britain. “If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one.

“If they continue to say there is no need for an apology, and no need to acknowledge their past wrongdoings, then what good would it do?” she asked.

In recent months, the United States has tried to seek a rapprochement between its two key military allies in Asia, but has made little progress.

The strain in relations is especially problematic at a time when the international community is struggling to build a consensus on dealing with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Speculation is growing of a possible return to the six-party talks, in which South Korea and Japan are both participants.

Their envoys on North Korea continue to meet for discussions, but analysts say a Park-Abe summit would be important in presenting a united front to Pyongyang.

Park’s pessimism about such a meeting followed a separate interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper last week in which she said the door remains open to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

  • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

    The real issue which this article should have addressed is not the lack of apologies, but rather the continued refusal to teach what happened during those times. Japanese history books used in schools are badly in need of revision. There are even a few places in Japan(such as the peace museum in Osaka) that clearly show Japan’s colonial rule and mistreatment of mainland Asia, but they seem to remain largely unknown. Japanese students need to stop being taught that the war was mainly about the atomic bombs and how Japan was a “victim”.

  • kension86

    Financial reparations have already been settled when it’s been revealed that the SK government itself ate most of the payment in the late 70s and hid it from public. The public opinion now in SK is for the SK government to repay the wartime victims.

    As for the “Rocks”, i will simply say that the status quo is not going to change because SK people are already living on it for several decades. There’s no need for SK people to ask for more “compromise”.

  • roppalfa

    so the Koreans have nothing in their history for which they should be ashamed of as a nation?? How about the massacre by Korean troops during the Vietnam war: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binh_Tai_Massacre..??

    The Koreans and the Chinese continue to leverage WW2 against the Japanese – 60 years after the event – nothing will placate either country – perhaps future generations will be able to move forward and let go of history…

  • Revelation

    The Japanese have acknowledged this themselves since ancient times [http://www.dokdo-takeshima.com/japanese-historical-maps-excluded-dokdo-ii.html] and some historians have even recently come forward and reaffirmed the fact: http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/ENGISSUE/100/588561.html

    And just for the record, Koreans never took the island by force since it has always been their land to begin with; that’s something they’ll never forget nor forgive regardless of how others may say otherwise.

  • Revelation

    Okay, the major conflict here isn’t about the Vietnam/Korean War, their servicing the U.S forces with brothels, etc.- so let us focus on the actual problem.
    What Korea truly seems to want among anything is for the Japanese government to make a sincere apology and stick to it. While it is true that a few Japanese politicians have issued apologies in the past, RIGHT NOW we have Abe who has done little to help his relations with Korea. Sure, he and his fellow cabinet keeps reiterating how much they want political talks with Korea, but let’s be real here- HOW can they expect that to be possible when the current government- regardless of said past apologies- continues to provoke their neighbor in countless ways?
    It’s pretty much like this: Japan is extending their hand to shake Korea’s, and all the while stating “but we’re still going to go after the land you control and deny the apologies we have already made. BUT we’re cool, right?”
    Logically, does that make sense? Would you, in Korea’s position, accept that? Anyone with a speck of intelligence surely would not. If the countries switched places, Japan would be enraged as well, and rightfully so! Therefore, until Abe OFFICIALLY puts his rightwing ambitions away and SINCERELY apologizes, tough luck if he wants to improve relations.

  • Mike Wyckoff

    “summit would be pointless”

    sure, lets just through it along with every other unresolved problem on the back-burner for the sake of politics.

  • Revelation

    Mind you, I have hardly forgotten that Korea refuses to sit down and speak with Japan, or what the reasons are behind that. Even if they held a summit, do you think Abe’s side would simply renounce any of Japan’s stances against Korea? I think not. Therefore, why would Park want to waste her time involving herself with Japan unless it’s a matter concerning North Korea or something else outside of what their fighting for?

    As for Dokdo, Korea knows better than to humor Japan and their plea to the ICJ, the reason being that since Japan has far more influence in the world, chances are they would win in court regardless of anything. So goes political games- hardly anything is played fairly and the more popular side always wins. Still, the least Korea can do is educate the world of what is true: the fact being Dokdo IS and always will be Korean land, so they can promote as they please since they have the right to. It’s not as if Japan isn’t campaigning either, you know.

  • Revelation

    There are always going to be multiple sides to any argument, but since you’re supporting YOURS on the basis that my sources are biased, I’ll have you know your reasoning is invalid. Why? Because you just provided a link to a website supporting Japan, and until you can offer that second link in English, I won’t consider it since I cannot read it.

    In regards to the land markers, I know all about how certain Japanese love to stick them around wherever they please, even desperately going out of their way to run to and from Japan before getting caught. It goes without saying the Koreans have the right to rid themselves of such garbage lying around where it does not belong.

  • fromZurich

    Japanese history book is evaluated as the fairest one among other US, China and Korean ones.
    As for the comfort women,they use it as a negative propaganda.