See More on Facebook


Lee, Abe agree on need to improve ties

Basic stance remains unchanged for both parties.

Written by

Updated: October 25, 2019

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Tokyo on Thursday and agreed that the deterioration of bilateral relations cannot be allowed to continue.

“I interpret (the situation) as being that the sporadic, undisclosed talks between the two sides are becoming official,” Lee was quoted as saying by a local news agency after the meeting. “I have hopes that (the talks) can speed up a little.”

Earlier in the day, Cho Sei-young, the first vice minister of foreign affairs, told the media that Lee and Abe had agreed that Korea and Japan are important neighbors, and that the strained ties cannot be neglected.

According to Cho, Lee and Abe also agreed that cooperation between South Korea and Japan on security matters, including cooperation on North Korea, was vital, and Lee requested Tokyo’s cooperation in pursuing dialogue to resolve issues between Seoul and Tokyo.

While Lee and Abe agreed on the need to improve relations, Abe is said to have repeated his government’s position on the matter of wartime forced labor.

Ties between Seoul and Tokyo have been frayed since the South Korean Supreme Court sided with plaintiffs who had been forced to work for Japanese firms during Japan’s occupation of Korea, and especially since Japan’s subsequent decision to retaliate.

Tokyo claims the matter of forced labor was resolved through a 1965 treaty normalizing ties between the two nations, and in July it introduced trade restrictions in retaliation.

In response to Abe’s reiteration of Japan’s position, Lee said both countries had abided by the conditions of the treaty and that the current issue could be resolved if the two sides worked together, Cho said.

At the meeting Lee also delivered a letter from President Moon Jae-in, which reportedly conveyed Moon’s congratulations on the enthronement of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito as well as his hope of cooperating with Japan to resolve diplomatic issues.

While the prime ministers’ meeting served only to reaffirm the two sides’ positions on the matter, Seoul officials have described the meeting as a “turning point.”

“Difficulties between the two countries have continued for 3 1/2 months, but the prime ministers’ meeting being arranged can be seen as a turning point,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

“Prime Minister Lee said the goal (of his trip) was to create an atmosphere that facilitates bilateral talks, and that goal seems to have been achieved.”

Meanwhile in Seoul, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters that there had been no changes to Japan’s position that could be deemed significant enough to warrant reconsideration of Seoul’s decision on the General Security of Military Information Agreement. In response to Tokyo’s decision to remove South Korea from its list of trusted trade partners under its export control system, Seoul announced in August that the GSOMIA would not be renewed.

“Positive mood for (revoking the decision on) GSOMIA can be established when Japan’s unfair export regulations are withdrawn,” Kang said.

“At present I do not consider the matter to be a subject of negotiations with Japan.”

Kang also revealed that little progress had been made regarding Seoul’s suggested solution for compensating victims of forced labor. After the Supreme Court ruling, Seoul suggested establishing a fund with money donated by Korean and Japanese firms in equal parts. The suggestion, however, was immediately rejected by Japan.

According to Kang, the two sides have discussed a number of factors related to the issue, and the two countries have gained a better understanding of each other’s positions.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se

By China Daily
March 13, 2020


India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020


Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.

By China Daily
March 11, 2020


Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M

By Daily Star
March 10, 2020


MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai

By The Star
March 9, 2020


OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the

By ANN Members
March 6, 2020