Japan-Republic of Korea Relations

June 21, 2015
On June 21, commencing at 5:30 p.m. for approximately two hours, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers' Meeting with Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, who is making a working visit to Japan upon invitation by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, followed by a dinner hosted by Minister Kishida. The overview is as follows. (From the Japanese side, Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Junichi Ihara, Director-General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and others attended the meeting. From the ROK side, H.E. Mr. Yoo Heung-soo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the ROK in Japan, Mr. Kim Hong-kyun, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Mr. Lee Sang-deok, Director-General, Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, and others attended the meeting).

1. This was the Minister Yun's first visit to Japan. A positive exchange of views took place on advancing the Japan-ROK relations. At the meeting, discussion was carried out regarding the Japan-ROK relations in general, the 50th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-ROK relations, people-to-people exchanges, cooperation between Japan and the ROK in fields such as security and the economy, various challenges between Japan and the ROK, the North Korean issues, and challenges facing the region and the international community, including the South China Sea.

2. (1) At the beginning, Minister Kishida welcomed Minister Yun to Japan, and expressed his gratitude for the warm hospitality he received when he visited the ROK in March. Minister Kishida extended his condolences to those who have died due to the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in the ROK, expressed his hope that the outbreak ends promptly, and explained that Japan intends to cooperate where possible. In addition, Minister Kishida expressed his joy that celebratory events will be held in the capitals of both countries on June 22, and explained that both he (Minister Kishida) and Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, will attend the event in Tokyo. Minister Kishida also stated that although two countries face difficult issues, it is important to cooperate so as to make this year, the 50th anniversary of the normalization, a meaningful one.
(2) Minister Yun expressed his gratitude for being welcomed by Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs at the airport, and explained that he was encouraged to visit Japan by Minister Kishida at the Foreign Ministers' Meeting in March, and the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations. Minister Yun expressed his gratitude for Minister Kishida's comments with the MERS.
3. The two Foreign Ministers welcomed that various accredited events are being held in both Japan and the ROK to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations, and shared their view that they will continue to cooperate to make this year meaningful. As part of that, the Foreign Ministers welcomed the holding of celebratory events in the capitals of both countries on June 22 (confirmed the attendance of both Prime Minister Abe and President Park), and affirmed that they will proactively support the various events, including the Japan-ROK Festival.

4. The Foreign Ministers concurred on holding Foreign Ministers' Meetings regularly on the sidelines of international conferences, and implementing mutual visits by both Foreign Ministers. As part of that, Minister Yun invited Minister Kishida to visit the ROK this year, and it was decided that coordination will take place so that Minister Kishida can visit the ROK at an appropriate time. In addition, based on the perspective that cooperation between Japan-ROK, and Japan -ROK-United States is important, it was decided that the three countries will coordinate to hold a Japan-ROK-U.S. Foreign Ministers' Meeting at an appropriate time. Both Foreign Ministers shared the view that they will work together to realize a Japan-ROK Summit Meeting at an appropriate time, and to hold Japan-ROK-China Summit as early as possible this year.

5. Both Foreign Ministers confirmed that strengthening cooperation between Japan and the ROK is essential not just to Japan and the ROK, but to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region,  and shared the view that they will continue to deepen practical cooperation in a variety of fields, including security and the economy. In connection with the MERS outbreak in the ROK, they shared the view that both sides will communicate closely in order to cooperate on the responses.

6. The Foreign Ministers also discussed outstanding issues of concern between Japan and the ROK, including tightened import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, the trial over the requisitioned civilians from the Korean Peninsula, the issue surrounding the indictment of the former Sankei Shimbun Seoul bureau chief, and the comfort women issue. Additionally, they fully shared the view that Japan and the ROK, as responsible members of the World Heritage Committee, will coordinate to make the Committee a success, and will cooperate so that the sites being recommended by their respective countries (the ''Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution'' and the ''Baekje Historic Areas'') are both listed.

7. The Foreign Ministers confirmed the importance of close cooperation between Japan and the ROK, and Japan-ROK-United States over the North Korean issues, in order to extract concrete action from North Korea on denuclearization, and they also confirmed understanding and cooperation on North Korea's humanitarian issues, including the abductions issue.

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