SEOUL – South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will visit Japan for two days from Tuesday to hold talks with her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, the two countries said Sunday.
At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, Kono and Kang are expected to reaffirm close cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs and discuss other issues.
Kang’s Japan visit will be her first since she took office in June. She will be the first South Korean foreign minister to visit Japan since her predecessor, Yun Byung-se, in August 2016.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that Kang is highly likely to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her trip.
North Korea test-fired a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29 and declared the completion of its nuclear goals. Sharing the view that the North Korean moves are a serious challenge to the international community, Kono and Kang are expected to affirm their policy of imposing stronger sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang to prevent the reclusive country from making further provocations and to prompt it to accept dialogue toward denuclearization, sources said.
On other issues, the South Korean Foreign Ministry may release by year-end the outcome of its examination of the negotiation process for the December 2015 bilateral agreement on resolving the issue of “comfort women,” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels before and during the war.
Kang may explain the results of the examination during her visit, while Kono is expected to ask Seoul to steadily implement the agreement, the sources said.
The administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pursuing a two-track approach to diplomacy that separates historical issues, including the comfort women, from security and economic cooperation. In light of that policy, Kono and Kang are expected to discuss economic and personnel exchanges along with other measures to help boost bilateral ties, the sources said.
The ministers are also likely to exchange views on holding a trilateral summit for Japan, South Korea and China, and a visit to Japan by Moon, the sources said. Japan is pushing for the trilateral summit to take place as soon as possible.