SEOUL – President Park Geun-hye signaled Monday that South Korea will pursue a two-track diplomacy toward Japan, separating current governmental relations from historical issues stemming from Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking at a meeting of senior aides, Park said her government will not “bury our head” in historical issues in ties with Japan.
“We will press forward with a clear-cut focus and direction in a different dimension,” Park said in her first meeting with senior aides since returning a week ago from a four-nation trip to South America.
Diplomatic ties between the two nations have been strained over historical issues, particularly the recruitment of South Korean “comfort women.”
Park has been particularly critical of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accusing him of evading Japan’s responsibility over the issue of the women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
Nevertheless, Park has been facing growing calls in South Korea to improve economic ties with Japan in the wake of a gradual easing of diplomatic tensions between Tokyo and Beijing as well as stronger ties between Tokyo and Washington, as underlined by Abe’s recent visit to the United States.
While some South Korean diplomats have openly suggested a two-track foreign policy toward Japan, this appears to be the first time that Park has embraced the idea in a meeting with her senior aides.