March 29, 2022
SEOUL – President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday called for the need to restore ties with Tokyo at the earliest in a future-oriented way, in his meeting with Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi.
The two meet at Yoon’s office in Seoul, with the president-elect stressing the need for communication between the two countries to resolve sticking points.
“If the two countries’ political leaders, government officials and people push ahead with bilateral relations in a future-oriented way, even if other issues may seem difficult, it could be resolved well through dialogue,” Yoon told Aiboshi. “I think South Korea-Japan relations must be improved in a future-oriented way and restored to a good relationship as urgently as in the past, and both sides will need to make a lot of effort.”
Yoon added that if the two countries communicate with each other with sincerity, the differences in opinions and difficult issues between the two countries would not be too much to overcome.
Their meeting comes as the two countries are mired in a protracted row over territorial and historical disputes stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Top leaders of the two have not held a summit in person since December 2019.
Strained ties between the neighbors have raised concerns in Washington, as it seeks to bolster trilateral cooperation with its Northeast Asian allies in the face of an assertive China and North Korea’s evolving military threats.
During their session, the two also discussed North Korea’s test last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the first full ICBM test by the reclusive regime since 2017, marking the end to the country’s self-imposed four-year moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests.
Yoon called for closer cooperation between South Korea, the US and Japan, so that “North Korea will have conviction that there’s nothing to gain from nuclear weapons,” according to Yoon’s spokesperson Kim Eun-hye.
“As North Korea’s nuclear missile provocation poses a serious threat to the security of both Japan and Korea, as well as to the international community, we hope to continue to work closely with South Korea for stability and prosperity in East Asia,” Aiboshi was quoted as saying, according to Kim.
During their meeting, Aiboshi said the recent phone conversation between Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had been held under a “good atmosphere.”
Yoon spoke with Kishida on March 11, two days after his electoral win. During their call, the two sides vowed to cooperate for better bilateral relations and to further strengthen trilateral cooperation with the US.