« 社説:TPP日米協議 交渉全体の漂流を防げ | トップページ | 御嶽山噴火 見せつけられた予知の難しさ »

2014年9月29日 (月)

日韓外相会談 関係改善への機運は本物か

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Have foreign-minister talks generated genuine momentum for better ties?
日韓外相会談 関係改善への機運は本物か

We must hold regular dialogue and seek common ground, even if there are issues that are onerous to resolve. We hope to see a return to this standard practice of diplomacy.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung Se, have held talks in New York, where they agreed on “the importance of continuing and deepening high-level communication” for Japan-South Korea ties.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have yet to hold a summit meeting. This point was clearly on the minds of the two foreign ministers. Kishida and Yun also held talks last month, and we welcome these positive developments toward improved bilateral relations.

However, obstacles remain. Regarding the issue of so-called comfort women, Kishida said, “Both Japan and South Korea must make efforts.” Yun was unbending in his response, demanding that Japan apologize and take concrete steps to resolve the issue.

As Kishida stated, South Korea should not simply continue to demand that Japan alone cede ground, and unless both sides make compromises, the comfort women issue will remain a thorn in the side of relations between the two countries.

Disconcertingly, there has been little change in Park’s obstinate stance. Even during her recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Park hinted at the comfort women issue, saying, “Sexual violence against women during armed conflicts is a clear violation of human rights and humanitarian norms, regardless of how far back or where it occurred.”

Although Park’s comments were more restrained than Yun’s remarks at the United Nations last year, the fact that a bilateral issue is being raised at the U.N. General Assembly itself only complicates efforts to untangle it.

Making amends

During her talks with former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Sept. 19, Park also insisted, “Sincere efforts have to first be made to heal the wounds of history.” Her position that “resolving” the comfort women issue was a precondition for a summit meeting with Abe remained firmly intact.

Park has not made any mention of precisely what she means by “sincere” and “efforts.” We wonder what point there is in Park upholding her anti-Japan stance.

As Park rigidly adheres to her position and steps up her castigation of Japan over the comfort women issue, she invites a backlash in Japanese public opinion, with many thinking, “We should just leave South Korea alone,” and chills Tokyo-Seoul ties. We urge the president to quickly recognize what is actually happening.

In fields other than history issues, the South Korean side has recently been strengthening efforts to move relations with Japan forward.

In September alone, there have been unofficial talks between Japanese, Chinese and South Korean vice ministers; Yun and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koro Bessho met for talks; and a director general-level meeting on Japan-South Korea cultural exchange was held.

Providing the backdrop to these encouraging developments have been external factors such as signs of improvement in Japan-China relations, the resumption of talks between Japan and North Korea and diplomatic pressure from the United States to mend ties, and growing calls from South Korean business circles and some media outlets to repair relations with Japan.

The stalemate in Japan-South Korea relations has affected efforts to work together on North Korean policies and defense cooperation. The repercussions also have been felt in sports and cultural exchanges, and in economic ties as seen in declines in Japanese corporate investment in South Korea and the number of Japanese tourists visiting there.

It is vital that both the Japanese and South Korean governments cherish the momentum generated by the recent series of dialogues, and make steady progress in efforts to build practical, cooperative relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2014)Speech


« 社説:TPP日米協議 交渉全体の漂流を防げ | トップページ | 御嶽山噴火 見せつけられた予知の難しさ »





« 社説:TPP日米協議 交渉全体の漂流を防げ | トップページ | 御嶽山噴火 見せつけられた予知の難しさ »