Are Korea and Japan Relations Showing Signs of Improvement?
D-Bo , June 22, 2015, 8:35 a.m.
Korea and Japan are taking baby steps to repair diplomatic ties that frayed amid the Abe administration's lurch to the far right. Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday said President Park Geun-hye will attend a reception hosted by the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Monday night marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in turn will attend an event at the Korean Embassy in Tokyo.
Cheong Wa Dae said it hopes that their attendance will "contribute to mending bilateral relations." The latest development has also fanned hopes of a summit between the two leaders. After a meeting with his Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se in Tokyo on Sunday Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Japan that the two sides agreed to hold a trilateral summit including China "as soon as possible." A diplomatic source here said a bilateral summit could take place on the sidelines.
Although there was no definitive progress in resolving the issue of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II and its bid to add forced-labor sites to the UNESCO World Heritage list, both ministers were hopeful of progress.
Yun met with reporters and said both sides were willing to continue talks to resolve major sticking points. The comments were interpreted as Japan agreeing to admit the use of slave labor at the Meiji-era industrial facilities if Seoul withdraws its vocal opposition to the UNESCO listing. Yun said he explained Seoul's position on the issue of the former sex slaves and said talks will continue.