Poll says half of Koreans want Park, Abe summit

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Poll says half of Koreans want Park, Abe summit

More than half of the public wants President Park Geun-hye to have a summit meeting with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, despite the longstanding dispute over historical issues between Korea and Japan, a survey conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies shows.

In a poll of 1,000 adults nationwide, 56.3 percent of respondents said they support what would be Park’s first summit with Abe, even if the Japanese leader fails to sincerely atone for his country’s wartime aggressions in a much-anticipated speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Aug. 15.

More than a third of respondents - 38.5 percent - opposed the talks, while 5.2 percent said they had no opinion.

Regarding a potential summit’s agenda, 37.5 percent said disputes over historical issues and the forced mobilization by Japan of young women into sexual slavery, euphemistically called “comfort women,” should be the priority.

On the other hand, 26.7 percent selected discussing the territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea as a matter of importance, while 9.5 percent said restoring bilateral ties was the most urgent matter and 8.2 percent opined that the two leaders should address North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Forty percent of those surveyed attributed the conflict between Seoul and Tokyo over historical issues to Japan’s distortion of history, while 26 percent pointed to the nation’s lack of atonement for the suffering it inflicted upon Korea. Meanwhile, 11.7 percent blamed Korea’s deficiency in national strength.

On how the two could improve ties, 47.1 percent said Japan should sincerely apologize for the suffering it brought on Korea in the first half of the 20th century.

The poll was conducted earlier this month by the private company Research & Research, requested by the Asan institute.

In a clear display of her disgruntlement toward Abe’s reluctance to accept the wartime wrongdoings of the imperial Japanese army, Korea’s first female president has not held a one-on-one meeting with the leader of Japan since she took office in 2012.

With the absence of a summit, bilateral relations have stood at a low point. There has been no sign of a breakthrough.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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