NEW YORK – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged Japan and South Korea to mend relations after Seoul scrapped a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo amid disputes over trade and wartime issues.
Speaking to Japanese media organizations in New York ahead of an overseas trip that includes a stop in Tokyo, the U.N. chief said, “I can only wish that they will be able to solve whatever difficulties exist in their relationship.”
“These two countries are very important pillars of stability and development in the region,” he added.
Guterres, meanwhile, expressed concern at the recent lapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and U.S. testing of a new type of missile, saying the trends of nuclear disarmament seen in the late 20th century are “being reversed.”
It is necessary for the United States and Russia to “start immediately the discussions” to extend another treaty on curbing strategic nuclear weapons which expires in February 2021.
Guterres is scheduled to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama next week.
He urged the Japanese government to promote policies for women’s empowerment.
“It is true that in Japan, we still have a very low percentage of women for positions of responsibility in the private sector. I am a strong supporter of gender parity,” he said.
With regard to alleged human rights violations against ethnic-minority Uighurs in China, the U.N. head indirectly called on Beijing to address the matter in a humane manner, saying, “We believe that in all situations human rights need to be fully respected.”
“At the same time, policies need to be adopted allowing different communities to feel that their identities are being respected,” he added.