Japan’s Prime Minister visits Seoul in search of deeper ties amid regional threats

Tokyo/Seoul: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Seoul yesterday to fulfill South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol amidst a sceptical public regarding the leaders’ pursuit of deeper ties within the face of nuclear threats from North Korea and China’s rising assertiveness. Little-known marks the primary by a Japanese leader to Seoul in 12 years, responding to Yoon’s trip to Tokyo in March. During that assembly, they aimed to resolve historical disputes that have dictated Japan-South Korea relations for years.
Before departing, Kishida talked about his hope for “an open discussion primarily based on a relationship of trust” with Yoon, with out discussing particular matters. However, Yoon faces criticism domestically for giving more than has been acquired in his efforts to enhance relations with Japan. Yoon proposed that South Korean companies, somewhat than Japanese firms ordered by a court, ought to compensate victims of wartime labour throughout Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial occupation. South Korean officers hope that Kishida will reciprocate with a gesture and supply political assist, although few anticipate any further formal apology for historic wrongs. Yoon himself has indicated that he doesn’t imagine that is necessary.
The summit’s focus is predicted to centre on security cooperation in response to North Korea’s nuclear threats, said Shin-wha Lee, a professor of worldwide relations at Seoul-based Korea University. “Within the framework of the ‘Washington Declaration,’ which outlines plans to strengthen extended deterrence, Korea will explore ways to reinforce the collaborative efforts with Japan,” she added.
“We have a lot of opportunities to cooperate in terms of addressing the specter of North Korea” and securing a free and open Indo-Pacific, a Japanese foreign ministry official stated. Tensions have grown between Washington and Beijing as China becomes extra assertive in its territorial claims over Taiwan and within the South China Sea, whereas the US strengthens alliances throughout the Asia-Pacific. However, historical variations between South Korea and Japan could hinder the flourishing ties between their leaders.
A majority of South Koreans consider Japan has not sufficiently apologised for the atrocities dedicated throughout Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea, according to Lee. “They suppose that Prime Minister Kishida ought to show sincerity throughout his go to to South Korea, similar to mentioning historic points and expressing apologies,” she added.
Conversely, Japan is proceeding slowly, suggested Daniel Russel, former US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. “Kishida is being cautious to not go quicker than his domestic politics allow,” he added, referring to the previous Korean government’s unilateral abrogation of a settlement on “comfort women” as a supply of Japan’s wariness.
In 2015, South Korea and Japan reached a settlement the place Tokyo issued an official apology to “comfort women” who say they have been enslaved in wartime brothels and offered 1 billion yen (US$9.23 million) to a fund to help the victims. However, then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in determined to dissolve the fund in 2018, successfully scrapping the agreement because it did not sufficiently handle victims’ concerns..

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