Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting

May 13, 2011

Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto held talks with Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan in Kyoto on March 19. Among topics discussed at the bilateral talks were the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan-ROK relations and North Korean issues. The following is an overview of the talks.

1. Great East Japan Earthquake

  1. (1) Minister Matsumoto thanked Minister Kim and ROK President Lee Myung-bak for their words of sympathy offered on the day of the March 11 disaster and for their calls of condolence at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on March 18. He also expressed gratitude for the supply of relief goods and the dispatch of rescue teams which was the first foreign relief mission to arrive in Japan. Furthermore, he stated, a number of people, politicians, and media organization extended their best wishes and offered support; many Japanese felt that the ROK is a true friend which helps Japan in need. Minister Matsumoto expressed his heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the Japanese people, and stated that Japan would make utmost efforts to support all the people afflicted by this disaster, including ROK nationals.
  2. (2) In reply, Minister Kim expressed his deeply-felt condolences for the loss of many lives and the huge damage caused by the quake. He noted that President Lee had called an emergency meeting immediately after the quake and instructed maximum assistance be provided to Japan. He stated that the people of the ROK shared the grief of the Japanese people, expressing hopes that the people of the two countries will open their minds to each other to help Japan overcome the difficult times.
  3. (3) Minister Matsumoto explained Minister Kim on Japan's efforts to bring under control Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged by the disaster and said Japan would like to continue sharing information in a timely and appropriate manner. Minister Kim thanked him for this.
  4. (4) Minister Matsumoto stated that Japan would like to promote cooperation with China and the ROK in the field of disaster management and nuclear power safety while sharing experience and lessons from the disaster with the two countries. Minister Kim replied that it is important to push forward cooperation between Japan and the ROK and among Japan, the ROK, and China based on the experience and that the ROK would like to discuss details in the future.

2. Japan-ROK Relations

  1. (1) Minister Matsumoto reiterated that he would like to invite President Lee to Japan within this year. The two sides agreed to continue coordination toward that end.
  2. (2) Minister Matsumoto stated that Japan would sincerely follow up on a Statement by Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued last August and continue making further efforts to obtain a Diet approval of the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the ROK on Archives.
  3. (3) Minister Matsumoto expressed his hope to resume negotiations for Japan-ROK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and conclude it as soon as possible. Minister Kim stated that the ROK understands the importance of Japan-ROK EPA and expressed his hope that meaningful discussions would be made at a director-general level meeting in May.
    (The meeting was held on May 9 in Seoul.)
  4. (4) Minister Matsumoto reiterated Japan's position regarding the issue of Takeshima. (On April 28, he protested that a series of measures being taken by the ROK Government regarding Takeshima, including projects to build a maritime science base, breakwaters, and other facilities, and the recent visits of cabinet ministers to the island is unacceptable. He called for cancelation of these projects and a planned visit by a ROK National Assembly committee delegation.)

3. North Korean Issues

  1. (1) Minister Matsumoto said close coordination among Japan, the ROK, and the U.S. is extremely important in tackling North Korean issues. Minister Matsumoto briefed Minister Kim on discussions at G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting in mid-March, where he made it clear that North Korea's uranium enrichment program violates the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and stressed the importance of the problem.
  2. (2) Minister Kim expressed gratitude for the efforts by Japan at the G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting.
  3. (3) The two ministers shared the recognition that it is important to maintain coordination between Japan and the ROK and among Japan, the ROK, and the U.S. on North Korean issues.
  4. (4) The two sides shared the recognition that progress must be made if a dialogue is ever to be held with North Korea. Minister Matsumoto noted that any dialogue with North Korea must be preceded by an inter-Korean dialogue, followed by dialogues with Japan and the U.S., eventually leading to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. In this process, he stressed, coordination with the ROK and the U.S. is important. The two ministers also agreed that "dialogue for the sake of dialogue" is inappropriate and that North Korea needs to show in the first place its intention to sincerely deliver on its commitments including denuclearization through concrete actions.
  5. (5) The two ministers shared the recognition that the North Korea's uranium enrichment activities violate the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and relevant UN Security Council resolutions and that it is necessary for the international community, including the UN Security Council to issue a strong message.

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