Meeting with Abe is slim

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Meeting with Abe is slim

Amid growing expectations for a summit between the Korean and Japanese leaders, the Blue House made it clear yet again yesterday that a conversation will only be possible if Japan shows sincerity in resolving its historical transgressions.

“No details [about the summit] have been fixed at this moment,” Min Kyung-wook, a Blue House spokesman, said in a briefing yesterday. “There is no reason for us not to converse with them if Japan creates circumstances necessary for a constructive conversation.”

When asked whether the meeting will still happen with just a week left until the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, event leaders from both nations will attend, Min again stressed that the Blue House would have to see how “truthful” Japan is.

On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reversed his stance on revising the 1993 Kono Statement, which apologized for the pain and indignity suffered by the women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, and further stated that his cabinet had no intention of reviewing it.

Speculation mounted afterward that a meeting between President Park Geun-hye and her Japanese counterpart may actually materialize on the sidelines of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, scheduled March 24 and March 25 in The Hague.

That upbeat outlook was fanned further when Park acknowledged on Saturday, just a day after Abe’s announcement, that the Japanese prime minister’s decision to stand by his government’s past apologies for its wartime aggressions was “a relief.”

Analysts here speculate that her use of the word “relief” is a step away from her persistence in rejecting a meeting with Abe.

Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, said yesterday that the Japanese government would like to “welcome” President Park’s remarks, though he did not mention anything about a meeting on the sidelines of the security summit.

Park’s comment on Saturday has led the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliberate on various scenarios for an encounter between Park and Abe, including a trilateral summit among Korea, Japan and the United States.

“There are various sentiments about the summit,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “The current prevailing opinion is that we won’t be able to decline a trilateral meeting. What is most important is what Korean citizens think, so we are closely watching how they will react to a conversation between a Korean and Japanese leader.”

BY SEO JI-EUN, YOO JI-HYE [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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