Kang exhorts Japan to look ahead

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Kang exhorts Japan to look ahead

Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called Monday for joint efforts with Japan to build a future-oriented relationship based on a “humble” recognition of the neighbors’ shared history.

Kang made the call during a seminar marking the 20th anniversary of the landmark declaration in 1998 by then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then-Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on building a new partnership beyond the countries’ historical enmity.

“Facing history with a humble attitude and holding each other’s hands for a future-oriented cooperative partnership. ... This is the spirit of the joint declaration and what is needed for the South Korea-Japan relationship at this point,” Kang said in a statement read out by Vice Minister Cho Hyun.

“The declaration that the two leaders made with their wisdom and determination 20 years ago set a clear direction in which the bilateral relationship should move forward,” she added.

Diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Tokyo have continued due to Japan’s persistent sovereignty claims to Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and the still potent memories of Japan’s colonial-era misdeeds, such as its wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.

Tokyo occupied the peninsula from 1910-45.

In her speech, Kang noted the difficulties facing the two countries, but stressed that communication channels are being activated to lay the foundation for an improvement in relations.

The minister also pointed out that cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo is not just at a bilateral level given that their joint efforts for peace on the peninsula could contribute to peace in Northeast Asia and beyond.

“For the complete denuclearization, the establishment of a lasting peace on the peninsula and prosperity in Northeast Asia, what is important is support and cooperation from the international community, including regional countries, particularly Japan,” she said.

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