SOUTH KOREA. Seoul: The new president of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, wants to resolve old differences and mend tense relations with Japan, according to foreign minister Park Jin, who left for Tokyo on Monday.
Relationships have been tense for a long time due to the painful effects of Japan’s colonisation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Disputes vary from export restrictions to forced labour during wartime, although both countries have shown willingness in mending fences.
Park will meet with Yoshimasa Hayashi later on Monday during his first visit to the Japanese capital since Yoon assumed office in May.
According to a television broadcast of Park’s press conference, Yoon has a strong desire to strengthen ties between South Korea and Japan. Park promised to convey this to the Japanese side.
In order to secure better cooperation on matters like North Korea and China, the United States, which has different alliances with both nations, has been pressuring South Korea and Japan to improve their relations.
Even while there are worries that the passing of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe may alter Japan’s foreign policy goals, South Korean authorities are hopeful that the high-level visit will kick off negotiations to resolve the problems.
The trip aims at “turning on the tap” for serious talks on issues about forced labour, which stalled under Yoon’s predecessor, a senior official handling Japan policy said last week.
Officials from Japan agree that relations should be strengthened, but they look to Seoul for solutions to problems like South Korean court rulings seizing the assets of Japanese enterprises accused of underpaying some workers from the colonial era.
Tokyo has threatened harsh consequences if the orders are carried out, and the South Korean Supreme Court is anticipated to reach a final ruling over the liquidation of the assets in August or September.