Speculation is mounting that President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may meet during the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague later this month, following Tokyo’s announcement that it would uphold past apologies for its colonial-era misdeeds. Prospects also grew that Park could hold bilateral talks with Abe or trilateral talks including U.S. President Barack Obama. The three leaders are to attend the international meeting on March 24-25.
“We have no reason not to hold talks if Japan shows a sincere attitude and creates a condition for constructive dialogue,” presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said.
Min, however, said nothing had been confirmed at the moment in regards to a possible two- or three-way meeting during in the Netherlands.
|President Park Geun-hye|
Park has remained reluctant to hold summit talks with Abe, despite her counterpart’s repeated offers. The South Korean president believes that Tokyo is not sincere enough to shore up ties with Seoul. Growing anti-Japanese sentiments sparked by Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine last December, Tokyo’s repeated claims to Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and its refusal to offer an official apology to Korean sex slavery victims, have also caused Park to refrain from holding talks.
If realized, their first summit is widely expected to bring an improvement in bilateral ties, which have been strained by historical and territorial disputes.
“Our government, however, believes that it is important to hold talks between leaders of the two countries with productive results, not just for the sake of having talks,” Min said.
“To create the condition for productive dialogue, Japan should take sincere steps on the issue of history and other matters of the past,” he added.
|Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe|
Cheong Wa Dae’s demand to Japan came three days after Abe’s announcement that he would inherit Japan’s past apologies made in 1993 and 1995 for its colonial rule.
In the 1995 Murayama Statement, former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama officially apologized for his country’s colonial occupation of Asian states, including Korea.
In the 1993 Kono Statement, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of sexual slavery, sometimes called “comfort women,” and admitted responsibility for their suffering. Historians put the number of victims at around 200,000.
Park welcomed Abe’s announcement Saturday and said she hoped that it would become an opportunity to relieve the pain of victims of sex slavery and improve relations between the two countries.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)