Japan, S Korea to work together on tackling global issues

by May 27, 2024Featured Article, News

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Sunday to make efforts to further develop relations with South Korea ahead of the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties next year during his talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol.

At their 10th in-person summit, the two leaders also agreed to work together in addressing North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the South Korean presidential office said, amid an increasingly unstable regional security environment.

At the outset of the meeting, Kishida told Yoon that Japan will deepen cooperation with South Korea to tackle global issues, while striving to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vision advocated by Tokyo in a veiled bid to counter China.

Yoon said South Korea will continue to hold high-level exchanges with Japan in areas such as finance, industry and state-of-the-art technology.

Kishida and Yoon — who met in Seoul in the run-up to a trilateral summit Monday involving Japan, South Korea and China — reaffirmed the necessity of bolstering their countries’ security ties with the United States, the presidential office said.

The two leaders shared concerns about North Korean missile tests and nuclear weapons development, the office added.

After meeting with Yoon for around 60 minutes, Kishida told reporters that Japan and South Korea also agreed to expand people-to-people exchanges and jointly promote use of clean energy sources including hydrogen and ammonia.

“To advance the Japan-Korea relationship further, President Yoon and I will take the lead in proceeding with preparations” to that end as the 60th anniversary approaches, Kishida added. During the talks, Yoon said South Korea hopes that next year will be a “historical turning point.”

The meeting came as bilateral relations have improved since South Korea announced in March 2023 a solution for a long-standing wartime labor compensation dispute. The leaders last met in November in the United States.

Kishida and Yoon, however, met as fears are mounting that bilateral ties could become frayed again after Japan’s communications ministry asked a Tokyo-based company to review its capital relationship with a South Korean firm.

Earlier this year, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications urged LY Corp, the operator of the popular Line messaging app, to strengthen the protection of users’ personal data in the wake of a massive data breach.

The ministry also pointed out that the Japanese app provider relies too heavily on South Korea’s Naver Corp, which operated the infected server and is a major shareholder in LY. Yoon’s government has cautioned that “discriminatory measures should not be taken.”

While the Japanese ministry’s move has triggered a backlash in South Korea, Yoon was quoted by a government official as telling Kishida that the issue should be properly managed to prevent it from becoming an unnecessary obstacle to bilateral diplomatic relations.