Pragmatism with Tokyo is neededRegardless of standoffs over historical and territorial disputes, Korea and Japan must keep a dialogue and its partnership intact on the security and economic fronts. It helps neither country if security and economic interests are strained due to a gridlock on history-related and territorial issues.
Seoul must pursue a two-track policy in its relationship with Tokyo by separating long-standing historical disputes with imminent and practical security and economic affairs.
The Ministry of National Defense announced that Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his Japanese counterpart, Gen Nakatani, will hold talks on the sidelines of Asia Security Summit - also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue - which runs from the May 29 to 31 in Singapore. These will be the first bilateral defense talks at the ministerial level since January 2011.
Separately, a meeting between the two nations’ finance ministers has been scheduled, the first since President Park Geun-hye took office. Korean Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and Japan’s Taro Aso are slated to meet Saturday in Tokyo to discuss economic issues and cooperation.
Annual meetings between both governments were put on hold amid complaints about Tokyo’s revisionist interpretation of its colonial and wartime atrocities.
North Korean weapons threats have escalated, and Pyongyang has upped the saber-rattling over its nuclear progress. It also announced earlier this month that it had successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, so the traditional security alliance among Korea, the United States and Japan is more important now than ever.
The three must be able to closely share intelligence on North Korea, and bilateral defense talks must specifically address cooperation on containing the mounting threats from North Korea. The financial talks between our ministers must also address expanding our partnership in commerce and trade. We must remain firm on these long-held disputes, but nevertheless keep a practical relationship and our partnership alive. Such pragmatism should also apply to bilateral talks. We hope to hear good news following both meetings with our defense and finance ministers.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 23, Page 30