‘Sincere steps’ needed for Seoul-Tokyo meet

Kyodo

South Korea is open to a summit with Tokyo but demands Japan first take sincere steps on historical issues to create the right conditions for talks to produce substantial results, a spokesman for South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday.

“There is no reason for us to refuse to hold dialogue if Japan shows a sincere attitude and creates the conditions where constructive dialogue is possible,” Min Kyung-wook told reporters, according to Yonhap News Agency. “Our government believes it is important to hold dialogue where productive results can be made.

“In order to create the conditions where productive dialogue is possible, Japan should take sincere steps on the issue of historical perception and other matters of the past,” Min said, with elaborating on what “sincere steps” would mean.

Japan has reportedly been seeking a summit on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Netherlands scheduled for March 24 and 25.

Prospects for a summit between Park and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have risen after Park reacted positively over the weekend to Abe’s promise to honor Japan’s past statements of apology for the 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Park welcomed Abe’s assurance that his administration will not retract Japan’s 1993 apology for forcing women into sexual slavery during the war.

Seoul is “glad” about Abe’s remark during Friday’s session of the Upper House Budget Committee that “I’m not thinking about revising (the statement) under my Cabinet,” Park said, according to a presidential spokesman.

Park was also quoted as expressing hope that Abe’s remark will be the start of stronger relations between South Korea and Japan, as well as relations among countries in Northeast Asia.

Abe has yet to hold a summit with Park since she became president in February last year.

The apology, known as the Kono statement, acknowledges the Japanese military’s role in coercing females, mostly Koreans and are known euphemistically in Japan as “comfort women,” to provide sex for soldiers.

  • phu

    While it’s good that both Abe made this statement and Park acknowledged it, I wish South Korea had gone a bit further and taken the next step — any next step, really, rather than just “thanks, and we want more.”

    Abe does deserve to be put on the spot, but then so does Park, and if we don’t see more of the kind of moderation shown in Abe’s reversal, it won’t end up doing any good. You can’t expect Japan to be the only one backing off the rhetoric if you want things to fundamentally improve.