Japan-S Korea cooperation
At a time when the situation in East Asia has become increasingly unstable, cooperation between Japan and South Korea is becoming even more important.
Both sides should step closer to each other to put bilateral relations back on a more normal footing.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se recently held talks in Brunei and agreed to stably develop a “future-oriented” bilateral relationship.
These were the first such talks between Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers in about nine months. It was extraordinary that the neighbouring nations had not held any summit or foreign ministerial meetings since the administration of South Korean President Park Geun Hye was launched in February.
There are many issues that Japan and South Korea should jointly address, such as North Korea&’s nuclear and missile development programmes and China&’s rise in the military and economic spheres.
The stalemate over economic issues, as exemplified by the prolonged suspension of talks for a bilateral free trade agreement, also cannot be overlooked.
Meanwhile, the United States has been indirectly trying to improve Japan-South Korea ties apparently because it believes the deterioration in the bilateral relationship would undermine peace and prosperity in East Asia.
China has reportedly stated that it will only hold a Japan-China summit meeting on the condition that Tokyo acknowledges a territorial dispute exists over the Senkaku Islands.
Once again, a meeting between the foreign ministers of Japan and China was not held this time. Given the possibility that high-ranking officials of Tokyo and Beijing cannot hold talks for an extended period, the necessity of rebuilding Japan-South Korea relations takes on even greater importance.
Japan and South Korea have been trading jabs over territorial and historical perception issues involving the Takeshima islands and so-called wartime comfort women.
The South Korean foreign minister told his Japanese counterpart that if Japan “fails to carefully deal with the history issue, it will hurt the soul of the [Korean] people.”
But we believe that an intrinsic role of diplomacy in this context is to ensure both nations have substantive cooperation over North Korea and other issues while keeping their differences to the absolute minimum.