Japan and South Korea agree to mend ties as leaders meet following years of dispute | CNN


The leaders of South Korea and Japan pledged to restart ties at a fence-mending summit – the first such meeting in 12 years – as the two neighbors grappled with growing concerns about threats from North Korea and China. want to do

“From now on, I would like to start a new chapter in Japan-South Korea relations with frequent visits between the two sides,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk in Tokyo. that are not formally bound.” Yeol

Mutual visits by Japanese and South Korean leaders have been suspended for 12 years as relations have strained over a number of issues, including a wartime labor dispute.

The shared security challenges facing the two countries were evident hours before North Korea’s trip. A long-range ballistic missile The fourth intercontinental ballistic missile launch in less than a year – in waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.

During a joint statement on Thursday, Kishida said Japan and South Korea had agreed to resume bilateral security talks in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and reaffirmed the importance of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. and to work together for it. Protect the international law-based order.

And Yun said he was willing to “fully normalize” the military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

“I think the two countries should be able to share information about, and respond to, North Korea’s nuclear missile tests and trajectories,” he said.

In 2019, South Korea terminated a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan amid a long-running dispute over forced labor by Japan during its occupation of Korea, sending relations to their lowest level in decades. Delivered.

The summit between Yun and Kishida is an important step toward improving strained relations between two of America’s main allies in Asia after decades of conflict and mistrust.

Yun’s office called it “an important milestone” in the development of bilateral relations.

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that the two leaders are expected to partake in a dinner of sukiyaki and “omurice” or omelette rice in English, at Yun’s request that he likes those dishes.

The two East Asian neighbors have a long history dating back to Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula a century ago.

The two normalized relations in 1965, but unresolved historical disputes persisted, particularly regarding colonial Japan. Forced labor and the use of so-called “comfort women” sex slaves.

In recent years, the relationship has often been bitter. America’s efforts suffered To present a united front against North Korea – and Beijing’s increasing aggression.

Now, two of America’s most important allies in the region appear ready to turn a new page.

In another sign of goodwill, ahead of the summit, Japan and South Korea agreed on Thursday to end a trade dispute that has strained relations for years.

Japan will lift export controls to South Korea on high-tech materials used for semiconductors and display panels, while Seoul will withdraw its complaint to the World Trade Organization over the restrictions.

Much of the rapprochement between the two neighbors is driven by increasing security concerns about Pyongyang’s continued missile tests, China’s increasingly aggressive military posture and tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Commenting on the summit, China’s foreign ministry said Beijing opposes what it calls “the closed and exclusive spheres of individual countries”, and hopes that “Japan-South Korea relations will promote regional peace, stability And will progress in the direction of prosperity.”

The warming ties are welcome news for Washington, which has been pushing for detente.

“Together we are not only on the political front but on the strategic front, on the deterrence front, which is what North Korea fears. It’s also something that China doesn’t want to see happen,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel told CNN on Thursday. .

Emanuel said that the US, Japan and South Korea have held more than 40 trilateral meetings at various levels over the past year, which is more than the combined process of the previous five years.

“That familiarity, that institutional dialogue and conversation, building trust, was probably the biggest contribution” to thawing the relationship, he said.

Under Yoon’s predecessor, Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s relationship with Japan was “openly combative,” said Joel Atkinson, a professor of Northeast Asian international politics at Hankook University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

“So this visit is important, sending a strong signal that under the Yun administration, the two sides are now working much more cooperatively,” Atkinson said.

The thaw in relations comes as South Korea takes a major step toward resolving a long-running dispute that has plunged ties to their lowest point in decades.

Last week, South Korea announced It would compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s occupation from 1910 to 1945 through a public foundation financed by private Korean companies – rather than Japanese firms contributing reparations.

The move was welcomed by Japan and welcomed by the White House.

Yun is trying to mend relations — even if that means pushing back against domestic public pressure on controversial, highly emotional issues like the reparations plan.

In addition to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, China was a major factor in Yun’s willingness to face domestic backlash over the reparations deal, said Atkinson, a Seoul-based expert.

“The administration is making the case to the South Korean public that it’s not just about Japan, it’s about engaging with a broader coalition of liberal democracies,” he said.

“South Koreans perceive Beijing’s bullying, arrogant treatment of their country as well as Hong Kong’s crackdown on protests, threats against Taiwan and so on. prepared.”

Even before the landmark move to resolve the historic dispute, Seoul and Tokyo signaled a willingness to put the past behind them and develop closer ties.

On March 1, in a speech commemorating the 104th anniversary of South Korea’s protest movement against Japan’s colonial occupation, Yoon said that Japan had “transformed from a former military aggressor into a partner” who “shares the same global shares values.”

Since taking office, the two leaders have embarked on diplomatic activities to improve bilateral relations and deepen their joint cooperation with Washington.

In September, Yun and Kishida held the first summit between the two countries since 2019 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where they agreed to improve ties.

The closer alignment between the US, Japan and South Korea is a worrisome development for China, which has accused Washington of waging a campaign to stifle and stifle its growth.

But Emanuel argued that it was Beijing’s own actions that brought the countries together.

“If China had not clashed twice with India on the border, or twice with the Philippine Coast Guard, or fired a missile into Japan’s (Exclusive Economic Zone), none of this would have happened,” he said. said

“This is a recent development in response to China’s continued confrontation with others.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *