Ministerial dialogue with Japan sees no progress

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Ministerial dialogue with Japan sees no progress

The foreign ministers of Korea and Japan met on Thursday at the United Nations in New York to talk about a potential summit meeting between their leaders, but without much success.

During the talks, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida relayed his government’s wish for a summit between President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

However, Yun Byung-se, his Korean counterpart, reiterated the government’s steadfast position that Japan should first show sincerity in resolving historical disputes, including the Japanese Imperial Army’s forced mobilization of Korean women and girls into military “comfort stations” during World War II.

In response to Yun’s remarks, Kishida reasserted his government’s stance that the 1993 Kono Statement - issued as an apology to the victims by Yohei Kono, Japan’s cabinet secretary at the time - will not be revised.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday in Tokyo that Japan would not take new steps on the comfort women issue.

The far-from-fruitful dialogue disappointed some observers, who had anticipated that Korea might change its position when it comes to Japan’s wartime atrocities, especially considering that Abe just a week earlier had proposed through former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori that he and President Park meet, possibly on the sidelines of the upcoming the Asia-Europe Meeting or G20 summit.

Park responded that efforts are needed on both sides to ease soured bilateral relations.

The last time Yun and Kishida met was during the Asean Regional Forum in August. The Thursday meeting was urgently arranged at the request of Japan. The Korean minister also expressed concerns over Japan’s moves to boost its military forces, while his Japanese counterpart elaborated on hopes that Korea may resume imports of fisheries products from the country.

After a speech at the UN General Assembly on Friday, Abe called for talks with China and Korea without preconditions and reiterated a proposal for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.

Since he took office in late 2012, he has not been able to successfully realize meetings with Xi or Park due to historical issues with both countries.


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