TOKYO ( Associated Press) – Japan announced on Friday that its foreign minister will attend the inauguration ceremony of South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk Yeol next week as part of an effort to ease strained ties between the countries. back to normal.
Although the decision to send Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to Seoul signals Japan’s willingness to improve dialogue with South Korea, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s absence at the event underscores the still unresolved issues that continue to thorn in their ties. Used to be.
Japan sent a deputy prime minister for the 2013 inauguration, and serving prime ministers have attended the last two ceremonies. No foreign guests were invited to the swearing-in of outgoing President Moon Jae-in in 2017.
Relations between the countries have fallen to their lowest point because of disputes over Japanese atrocities stemming from the 1910–1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula, including the brutal treatment of Korean workers during the war and the sexual exploitation of women. In military brothels.
Disagreements over history have been complicated by court decisions, including a 2018 South Korean Supreme Court order ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to wartime Korean workers.
Japan says all compensation issues have been resolved under the 1965 treaty, which has normalized their relations and criticized South Korea for violating international law. The disputes have affected trade ties and security cooperation, raising concerns amid threats from China and North Korea.
Stressing the importance of maintaining communication with the new government in Seoul, the foreign ministry said Hayashi would make a two-day visit to Seoul as Kishida’s special envoy from Monday.
Hayashi is expected to hold talks with several top officials in the Yun government, including his counterpart, but Japanese officials said details were still being worked out. Hayashi is the first Japanese foreign minister to visit South Korea since Taro Kono in 2018.
Last week, a delegation from Yun’s visiting administration held several meetings with top officials in Tokyo, including Kishida, and they agreed to make efforts to smooth their relations.
Cooperation with Japan and South Korea, as well as the United States, their mutual allies, “is indispensable to stability in the region, including their response to North Korea,” Hayashi told reporters before announcing his visit.
“While Japan-South Korea relations are in a very serious state, we cannot leave them alone,” Hayashi said. “I plan to communicate closely with President-elect Yoon and his new administration in order to return Japan-South Korea relations to a healthy one, but while maintaining Japan’s consistent position.”