Vice foreign minister in U.S. for three-way talksKorea is set to stand by its position that Japan face up to its colonial and wartime past in the first trilateral talks on Thursday in Washington with the vice ministers of foreign affairs for the United States and Japan.
Korea’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yong told reporters on Wednesday after arriving at the Washington Dulles International Airport that he will “speak clearly and firmly on Japan’s historical problems.”
“We will engage in diplomatic efforts and convey our positions as we meet with U.S. government officials and other people” in Washington, Cho said.
However, he added, that Korea will be “promoting cooperation with Japan on issues that could increase national interests,” including North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The talks come as Seoul and Tokyo wrangle over a number of historical and territorial issues, particularly, Japan’s refusal to officially or sincerely apologize for forcibly recruiting tens of thousands of women - many of them Korean - into military comfort stations during World War II.
The Shinzo Abe administration has drawn criticism from governments and scholars for its historically revisionist tendencies as well as its attempts to whitewash its wartime aggressions.
Seoul most recently protested Tokyo’s renewed claims over the disputed Dokdo islets in the East Sea, which Japan calls Takeshima. The Abe government this month also approved all 18 middle school textbooks under review to reinforce its territorial claims over Dokdo, a move which alarmed Korea.
Cho was set to hold three-way security talks at the U.S. State Department with his American counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki.
Earlier this week in a town hall meeting at the State Department, Blinken described Seoul and Tokyo’s tense relationship as “a distraction to our common agenda,” which includes the nuclear threat from Pyongyang.
Blinken will additionally meet bilaterally with Cho and Saiki on Friday. Vice Minister Cho will also speak with other officials in Washington, including those on the U.S. National Security Council.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]