Yoon's delegation delivers his letter to Kishida
Yoon Suk-yeol’s special delegation met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday and delivered a personal letter from Korea's president-elect.
Following the meeting with Kishida Tuesday at his residence in Tokyo, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Chung Jin-suk, who led the delegation, told reporters that the visitors and Kishida “agreed that Korea and Japan, which now stand on a new starting line, should work for the forward-looking development of relations, and for shared interests.”
The delegation arrived in Tokyo on Sunday for a five-day trip to meet with government officials and private organizations to try to repair the deeply frayed ties between the two neighbors.
The meeting with the Japanese prime minister started at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday and lasted 25 minutes.
The delegation delivered a personal letter from Yoon to Kishida, which was believed to describe “Yoon’s desire to inherit and pursue the spirit of the agreement between Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, or a future-oriented partnership with Japan while facing up to the history,” according to Chung.
In 1988, Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi made a joint declaration that both countries would discuss the future of their relations in order to build a new Korea-Japan partnership.
“Restoring trust between the two countries is more important than anything else,” Chung said. “To that end, we conveyed our view on the need to expand and revitalize people-to-people exchanges suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the improvement of an institutional framework for such means.”
An invitation to Yoon’s May 10 inauguration apparently wasn’t delivered during the meeting.
“The attendance of a leader to the inauguration ceremony is an issue to be decided by Japan according to custom, and there was no invitation to the inauguration,” Chung said. “If Japan expresses its desire to attend, we are ready to aid [the prime minister] in all sincerity.”
Long-simmering historical issues such as Japan’s wartime sexual slavery and forced labor were reportedly touched upon during the talks. The Japanese government maintains that the Japanese military’s wartime sexual slavery or forced labor were resolved by the 1965 Claims Settlement Agreement and the 2015 Comfort Women Agreement signed by Seoul and Tokyo. It has also demanded that Korea find a solution to court rulings that Japanese companies pay compensation to forced laborers.
“Japan has a very strict perception regarding the issue of attaching assets for forced labor [compensation],” Chung explained. “We will make diplomatic efforts to find a solution acceptable to all parties.”
Regarding the sexual slavery issue, Chung said, "In accordance with the spirit of the 2015 Comfort Women Agreement [...] we will make diplomatic efforts to come up with a bilateral solution.”
“Given that the rules-based international order is threatened, strategic cooperation between Japan and South Korea, as well as Japan, the United States and South Korea is needed more than ever, and we have no time to spare in improving Japan-South Korea relations,” Kishida said, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
Later in the day, the delegation met with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno for around 25 minutes.
All seven members of the delegation were at the meeting including the vice chair of the Korea-Japan parliamentary diplomacy forum Rep. Kim Seok-ki, former head of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy Yun Duk-min, professor at Seoul National University's Graduate School of International Studies Park Cheol-hee, former Ambassador to Singapore Lee Sang-deok, former Ambassador to Cambodia Chang Ho-jin, and Woo Jung-yeop, a Sejong Institute expert on the U.S.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]