The foreign ministers of Korea and Japan plan to hold talks in the U.S. this week in an apparent attempt to restore the two countries’ relations soured by historical and territorial feuds.
Yun Byung-se will meet with Fumio Kishida on Thursday in New York on the margins of the annual U.N. General Assembly slated for Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. This will be their second bilateral discussion since they were sworn in early this year.
With some ranking Japanese officials continuing to deny wartime atrocities, Yun is expected to call once again for Tokyo to adopt a correct perception of and introspective attitude toward history as key to better ties with neighbors.
At their first talks in July in Brunei on the sidelines of a regional security forum, Yun warned that the Japanese officials’ provocative remarks deteriorate bilateral ties, urging Tokyo to handle historical issues with “respect and care.”
The two countries’ relations remain strained since a flare-up in tension last year over the Korean islets of Dokdo in the East Sea, which Tokyo claims.
In April, Yun shelved his planned first trip to Tokyo after numerous Japanese cabinet ministers and politicians visited the Yasukuni Shrine which honors top World War II criminals and colonial leaders responsible for massacres, sex slavery and forced labor. Even more officials worshipped there in August to mark the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II, and have relayed comments denying the country’s imperial past.
Further escalating diplomatic spats is Korea’s recent ban on all Japanese fisheries products from Fukushima and nearby regions considered at risk from radioactive wastewater leaking from the quake-hit plant. Seoul blasted Tokyo’s lax safety control, while the Shinzo Abe administration is reportedly considering appealing to the World Trade Organization.
Yun arrived in New York on Monday and plans to deliver a keynote address at the U.N. on Friday, which is expected to touch on the North Korean nuclear program and former sex slaves for Japanese troops, among other issues.
Kishida is among the some 20 top diplomats to meet with Yun during his eight-day stay, along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com