Korea-Japan ‘Ki-Seung-Pre-History’ ties… North Korea is the ‘key’?

South Korea-US-Japan joint anti-submarine training (30th of last month)

Korea-US-Japan joint naval exercise for the first time in five years… The start of security cooperation between Korea, the US and Japan?

South Korea, the United States, and Japan held a joint anti-submarine exercise on the 30th of last month to counter North Korea’s submarine attack for the first time in five years.

On the 6th, the US nuclear aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the Japanese Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer Chokai, and the South Korean Aegis destroyer Sejong the Great took part in a joint naval exercise in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile provocation. . The training area is in the East Sea, about 185 km from Dokdo and 120 km from mainland Japan.

On the same day, President Yun Seok-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had a 25-minute phone call about North Korea’s test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). The phone call began at the request of the Japanese side, contrary to the short meeting between Korea and Japan in New York on the 21st of last month, when criticism of ‘shameful diplomacy’ was raised.

In a press conference on the 4th, Prime Minister Kishida said, “For the denuclearization of North Korea, we need to reaffirm and strengthen cooperation between the United States and Japan, and South Korea and Japan, and further, ‘Korea Cooperation- Japan’. .” It’s been five years since I added ‘Korea-Japan Cooperation’, and I can see a sense of crisis as a North Korean missile flies over Japan.

Although it was due to a sudden external variable called North Korea, Japan’s attitude seems to have changed a bit compared to the Moon Jae-in administration, when dialogue was almost cut off.

Korea-Japan 'Ki-Seung-Pre-History' ties... North Korea is the 'key'?

Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida

Kishida horses, horses, horses

Prime Minister Kishida’s comments on Korea-Japan relations have changed a bit this year.

“As for Korea, an important neighbor, we will strongly demand an appropriate response based on Japan’s consistent position.” (January 17th National Assembly Correctional Policy Speech)

Korea is an important neighboring country with which we need to cooperate in responding to the various challenges of the international community. Based on the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations that we have built since the normalization of diplomatic relations, we need to return to a healthy relationship and further develop Korea-Japan relations. We will continue to communicate.” (October 3, special session of the National Assembly, speech)

Korea is an important neighboring country in which we need to cooperate in responding to the various challenges of the international community. We shared the need to resolve pending issues and return Korea-Japan relations to a healthy one with President Yoon, whom we met at the United Nations General Assembly last month as an opportunity. It coincided with the future development of Korea-Japan relations based on the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations between Korea and Japan that has been established since the normalization of diplomatic relations.” (Question from the House of Representatives on October 6th)

First of all, the length is gradually getting longer. It means that the country of Korea has become important.

content “Strongly demands a response” -> “Close communication” -> “Consistent with developing Korea-Japan relations in a future-oriented way”The situation is gradually changing to a positive one.

But there are still things to watch out for.“Stable Situation (Japan)”, “Based on the friendship and cooperation between Korea and Japan that has been established since the normalization of diplomatic relations”That’s a phrase. It means the consistent position of the Japanese government that the issue of compensation for forced removal, including conscription, was resolved by the normalization of relations between Korea and Japan in 1965 and the Claims Agreement.

Korea-Japan 'Ki-Seung-Pre-History' ties... North Korea is the 'key'?

September 20 Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Are Korea-Japan Relations ‘Ki-Win-Pre-History’?

An outline of our government’s position has already been revealed. In a meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi on the 21st of last month, it is known that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Park Jin, carried out a plan including subrogation reimbursement (a third party paying first compensation on behalf of the debtor, then takes over the rights from the creditors and then exercises the right to indemnity).

In particular, the idea that ‘Korean and Japanese companies collect money and use the existing foundation (Japan Forced Displacement Victim Support Organization) to compensate the victims’ was discussed as extremely important. The target companies are expected to be Japanese companies that employed Korean workers who were forcibly mobilized during Japan’s colonial period, and Pohang Steel, which was established with claim funds.

However, Foreign Minister Hayashi repeated the previous claim that the compensation issue had been resolved, saying, “We presented a consistent position from the Japanese side.”

A close aide to Prime Minister Kishida also told Asahi Shimbun after a phone call with Japan on the 6th, “Korea-Japan cooperation is only a matter of security.” “The situation has not changed,” he said.

Other Japanese media also emphasized that the dialogue between the two leaders “places importance on sharing information on identifying and tracking signs of North Korean missile launches” (Sankei Shimbun). “It is still difficult to predict a full improvement in relations as there has been no deep discussion on historical issues,” he said.

Korea-Japan 'Ki-Seung-Pre-History' ties... North Korea is the 'key'?

Comfort women agreement between Korea and Japan in 2015

Is the beginning of solving the historical problem to restore the comfort women agreement?

Although it has received less attention than the issue of reparations for coercion, it is also believed that the restoration of the comfort women agreement will be key to improving Korea-Japan relations.

On July 18, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported, “Prime Minister Kishida has a strong belief in the comfort women agreement. There is an opinion that it is difficult to hold a summit (Korea-Japan summit) without committing to implement the agreement.”

Prime Minister Kishida is the party that announced the comfort women agreement with Foreign Minister Yoon Byung-se in 2015, when he was foreign minister. Despite the great adherence to the comfort women agreement, the Moon Jae-in-Wales administration must have been furious when it effectively abandoned the comfort women agreement.

On the other hand, the Yun Seok-yeol administration has repeatedly expressed its intention to respect the “comfort women agreement” as a promise between countries. If Prime Minister Kishida had changed his stance on Korea-Japan relations, it can be inferred that this position of the Yun Seok-yeol administration also played a role.

Sheila A. Smith, an expert on Japanese politics and diplomacy, a senior researcher at the American Foreign Relations Association, met with Korean reporters on the 17th of last month and said, “The Japanese people have feelings of anger over the violation of the comfort agreement. women.” If it is, it will help improve relations between the two countries,” he said.

Korea-Japan 'Ki-Seung-Pre-History' ties... North Korea is the 'key'?

Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow, American Foreign Relations Association

However, the historical problem is the most difficult problem to solve. As with all foreign policy, it is difficult for both governments to ignore public opinion, especially when it comes to historical issues. In diplomatic negotiations, there are four actors in addition to the governments of the two countries, including the people.

Victims of forced labor are currently demanding an apology from Japanese companies rather than money, and victims of Japanese military ‘comfort women’ also see the “Korea-Japan agreement on comfort women as an agreement that goes against the basic principle of solving the problem. a victim-centred problem.” Public opinion also moves sensitively according to the parties’ response.

Researcher Smith said, “I wonder if there will be a solution to this historical problem between Korea and Japan,” adding, “As an athlete running with an injury, we need to leave it as a kind of ‘homework’ in the relationship bilateral. and compromise in the direction of pursuing a future-oriented relationship,” he said.

However, this solution is not very different from the ‘two-track approach’ (separation of historical issues, political and economic issues, etc.) during the Moon Jae-in administration. Above all, the opponent, the Japanese government, has rejected this method, and it is not long before victims and the courts put it off as homework.

Korea-Japan 'Ki-Seung-Pre-History' ties... North Korea is the 'key'?

President Yun Seok-yeol, Chairman Kim Jong-un, Prime Minister Kishida

However, there are also, paradoxically, predictions that a ‘two-track approach’ will be realized under the Yoon administration, which repudiates the foreign policy of the Moon administration. North Korea is a common security threat. Of course, there are many tasks that need to be addressed ahead of time, such as Japan’s unilateral export restrictions and the restoration of the Korea-Japan Military Security Agreement (GSOMIA). The low approval ratings of President Yun Seok-yeol and Prime Minister Kishida also narrowed the scope of the move.

Nevertheless, it is positive that the close neighbors of Korea and Japan have started talking. This is because if the governments of Korea and Japan are at odds, the people of both countries will also suffer. However, I hope you don’t make the mistake of losing cause and benefit by rushing too much.

* This article was written through participation in the ‘2022 Korea-US Media Exchange Program’ of the Korea Press Foundation and the East-West Center.

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