Japan, South Korea agree to work on improving relations


Japan and South Korea agreed Monday to cooperate closely on developing bilateral relations currently strained by Japan’s perception of wartime history and a dispute over a pair of islets controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which South Korea calls the East Sea.

“I believe this meeting provided the start for building multilayered, future-oriented Japan-South Korea relations,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after his first face-to-face talks with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Brunei.

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 regarding Japan’s “comfort women” system of wartime military brothels and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement that the definition of “aggression” has yet to be fixed, 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 Asian nations, 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 understanding 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 envoys did not go as far as mentioning the possibility of a summit between Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Kishida said.

In April, Yun canceled plans to visit Japan to protest visits by Japanese Cabinet ministers to Yasukuni Shrine, the Shinto facility that honors Japan’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals, and is viewed by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

The differences over history and simmering tensions between Japan and China over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea led to the suspension of a trilateral summit involving Japan, China and South Korea that had been scheduled for late May.

Kishida and Yun met on the sidelines of meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners.

  • byekore

    Just waiting for when Korea will complain (as always), and ties will be frayed yet again.

    • bbqshrimp

      As long as Japan doesn’t do anything stupid that can piss off Korea and even China. Japan is the main reason why Korea and China is complaining to them.

    • dltjsh

      Lol. This guy has no idea what the hell is going on.

      • byekore

        On the contrary, I do know what’s going on. Japan needs to break ties with China and Korea completely (they don’t need each other at all honestly), and just concentrate on the rest of Asia (as it’s currently doing now).

  • Anita Railing

    This is great news. However, I give the ROK about 1 week before they storm out of the talks.

  • Paldo

    Germany admitted all the guilt they committed and paid compensations to any proved victims. The Chancellor Brandt even knelt for forgiveness. The German laws ban the revival of Nazis and schools are teaching the textbooks reminding children not to commit any atrocities in the past. Now they are accepted everywhere.
    There was a youth forum in Korea a couple of years ago. The Japanese youths were not even aware they JP “colonized” by force to Korea more than a hundred years ago. They thought Korea went voluntarily and happily joining the JP family. The JP textbooks (manipulated by the LDP) are misguiding the new generation.
    JP want the “4 Northern Islands” back from the Russians. If you go to a casino and bet and lost, you cannot demand your money back. China lost a big chunk of land to Russia (many times the size of JP) in wars more than a hundred years ago but resort not to claim it back.
    Deep in the bones Japanese are hated everywhere (at least not trusted) due to the JP government’s hyprocrisy. It’s time for most silence majority in JP to speak out to the government.

    • Jay Wilson

      Actually Paldo, the NORTHERN TERRITORIES were STOLEN from Japan AFTER she had surrendered

  • It’s very weird why this one never refered to most important requiring given by South Korean Foreign Minister, as “We have grave concern about recent hate speech term against South Korea in Japan as if it’s going to cross a border line of freedom of speech “, means “Take care of it ” or “We’re not going to close one eye anymore”.
    Which makes enough sense while Zaitokukai rants “Kill all Korean”, Japanese Netouyo spells ugly forbidden words everyday everywhere, why this article just ignored which was pointed out, even though it might be a weighty reason for Korea’s avoiding to hold a summit, or our causing of being avoided.

  • Jay Wilson

    ROK will not be satisfied with anything Japan does to apologize for its past. As if they WERE satisfied, they’d have to find another whipping boy