Japan announced on Friday that his foreign minister would attend again South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol’s inauguration ceremony next week as part of efforts to normalize strained relations between the countries.
Although the decision to send Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to Seoul signals Japan’s willingness to improve dialogue with South Korea, the prime minister is absent Fumio Kishida at the event highlights the still unresolved issues that are a constant thorn in their side.
Japan sent a vice prime minister to the 2013 inauguration, and incumbent prime ministers attended the two previous ceremonies. No foreign guests were invited to the inauguration of outgoing President Moon Jae-in in 2017.
Relations between the countries have plummeted to their lowest ebb due to disputes over Japanese atrocities resulting from the colonization of the Korean Peninsula in 1910-1945, including the brutal treatment of Korean war workers and the sexual abuse of women in military brothels.
Disagreements over the story have been complicated by court rulings, including a 2018 order by the South Korean Supreme Court for Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean war workers.
Japan claims all compensation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing its ties and has criticized South Korea for violating international law. The disputes have affected trade relations and security cooperation, and have raised concerns amid threats from China and North Korea.
Hayashi will take a two-day trip to Seoul starting Monday as Kishida’s special representative, the foreign ministry said, stressing the importance of maintaining communication with the new Seoul government.
Hayashi is expected to hold talks with a number of top officials in Yoon’s 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 Yoon’s new government held a series of meetings with senior officials Tokyo including Kishida, and they agreed to make efforts to smooth out their relations.
Cooperation between Japan and South Korea, as well as with the United States, their mutual ally, is “essential to regional stability, including their response to North Korea,” Hayashi told reporters before announcing his trip.
“Although Japan-South Korea relations are in an extremely difficult state, we cannot leave them alone,” Hayashi said. “In order to bring Japan-South Korea relations back to healthy ties, I plan to communicate closely with President-elect Yoon and his new government, but by maintaining Japan’s consistent position.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-japan-fumio-kishida-south-korean-tokyo-b2073046.html Japan broadcasts FM for the inauguration of the South Korean President