Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting
On March 21, commencing at 11:35 a.m. for approximately 90 minutes, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a Japan-Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK. The overview is as follows. (The meeting was attended on the Japanese side by Mr. Koro Bessho, the Japanese Ambassador to the ROK, Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and others; and on the ROK side by Mr. Lee Kyung-soo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and others). At the beginning, Minister Kishida presented the ROK side with a wooden spoon (“Shamoji”) from his birthplace of Hiroshima bearing the logo of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-ROK relations in Japanese and Korean, and a stamp which is scheduled to be issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary.
- This foreign ministers’ meeting is the first to be held in the ROK since Minister Kishida was appointed. A positive exchange of views took place on advancing the Japan-ROK relationship. Specifically, both foreign ministers confirmed to continue to exchange views at various levels in order to strengthen the cooperative relationship, and concurred on deepening consultations between them. Minister Kishida once again invited Minister Yun to Japan, and it was decided that a visit will be coordinated at a suitable time going forward.
- (1) At the beginning, Minister Yun welcomed Minister Kishida to the ROK, and expressed his condolences regarding the Japanese victims of the shooting terrorism incident in Tunisia. Additionally, Minister Yun said that he wants to make this year of 50th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-ROK relationsas the first year of a new bilateral relationship.
- (2) Minister Kishida expressed his gratitude for the sympathy expressed by Minister Yun regarding the shooting terrorism incident in Tunisia and for the ROK’s conveyance of a message to that effect, and showed his respect for Minister Yun’s leadership concerning the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Furthermore, Minister Kishida acknowledged that difficult issues exist between Japan and the ROK, but said that strengthening the bilateral relationship will profit both countries and is essential to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
- The foreign ministers shared its view that they will cooperate to make this year of 50th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-ROK relations meaningful. As part of that, they decided that the governments of both countries will actively cooperate via support for such opportunities as events commemorating the 50th anniversary, joint research symposiums carried out by academic societies from both Japan and the ROK, and Japan-Korea Festivals.
- The foreign ministers decided that reciprocal dispatches of young diplomats will take place soon, and that they will cooperate more closely in the fields of security, the economy and people-to-people exchanges. In the field of security, they decided to coordinate on holding a Japan-ROK Security Dialogue (foreign affairs and defense ministry director-general level “2 plus 2” talks) soon.
- The foreign ministers also discussed outstanding issues of concern between Japan and the ROK, including the trial over the requisitioned civilians from the Korean peninsula, the issue surrounding the indictment of the former Sankei Shimbun Seoul bureau chief, the tightening of regulations on Japanese marine product imports, and the comfort women issue. Additionally, the ministers also discussed the Japan-China-ROK cooperation and challenges facing the regional and international community, including the NPT Review Conference.
- In connection with the North Korean issues, the foreign ministers confirmed that it is absolutely unacceptable for North Korea to become a “nuclear-weapon state,” and close coordination between Japan and the ROK, and the Japan-U.S.-ROK relationship would continue. They also confirmed cooperation on humanitarian issues such as abductions and separated families, and Minister Yun expressed understanding and support for Japan’s efforts on the abductions issue.