(3rd LD) South Korean and Japanese senior diplomats agree on ‘forward-looking’ ties, differ on historical issues
(ATTN: RECASTS byline; ADDS more info in paras 10-12)
By Song Sang-ho and Kim Seung-yeon
LONDON / SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) – Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi have agreed on the need to develop relations between their countries in a ” future “during their first talks in London since Chung’s inauguration in February, his office said.
Their talks on the sidelines of a Group of Seven (G-7) rally followed a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, amid Washington’s efforts to encourage its Asian allies to overcome their historic hostility. to face common challenges, such as the North. Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
Until recently, Chung and Motegi had no communication as relations between Seoul and Tokyo remain strained amid tensions over Japan’s wartime forced labor, sexual slavery, export restrictions and its recent decision to discharge radioactive water from the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
“The two ministers shared an understanding of the need for South Korea and Japan to cooperate closely for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world,” the ministry said in a press release.
“And they shared the view that the two countries should develop the relations between Seoul and Tokyo in a forward-looking manner,” he added.
The two ministers also agreed to continue their cooperation to make substantial progress in efforts to achieve complete denuclearization and establish lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Despite what an official in Seoul described as a “good atmosphere”, discussions seem to have highlighted marked differences on historical issues as well as the plan to phase out tritium-containing water from the plant. of Fukushima.
Chung expressed “deep concern” that Tokyo made the decision on the planned sewage discharge without sufficient prior consultation with neighboring countries, the ministry said.
Regarding historical issues, Chung stressed that they cannot be resolved without the “correct” historical perception of Japan.
During the talks, Motegi called on South Korea to take appropriate action on the issue of wartime sexual slavery and offer solutions to the forced labor problem, according to Japan’s Kyodo News.
Tokyo has made this request on several occasions, arguing that the issue of sexual slavery was already settled under a 2015 government-to-government agreement, while the issue of forced labor was addressed under a 2015 government-to-government agreement. State-to-State pact of 1965 which normalized bilateral relations.
Despite the gaps exposed during the talks, the first meeting between the senior diplomats raised cautious hopes of reconciliation.
After his talks with Motegi, Chung said, “I had good discussions.”
During the talks, Chung expressed willingness to strengthen communication with Tokyo on various outstanding issues, and Motegi fully shared the point of view, a Seoul official said.
“The talks took place in a good atmosphere, and it was an opportunity to start communication between the two countries in earnest,” the official said.
The two countries held their last foreign ministerial meeting in Germany in February last year, when then-minister Kang Kyung-wha met with Motegi and his then-US counterpart Mike Pompeo.