Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting (Overview)

(April 25, 2012)

Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba held talks with Mr. Kim Sung-hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Ningbo, China, on April 7, on the sidelines of the Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (among officials also attending the bilateral meeting were Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the Japanese side and Mr. Cho Sei-young, Director-General of Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the ROK side). Both sides spent a great deal of time on North Korean issues and concurred on basic views. The following is an overview of the bilateral meeting.

1. North Korean Issues

  1. (1) Minister Kim expressed hope for a good exchange of views with Minister Gemba on North Korean and other issues to make a success of the Japan-China-ROK Summit Meeting scheduled for May. He said that at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March, many leaders exchanged views actively on the North Korean issues in addition to nuclear security and other matters, adding that he believed the message of international community had reached North Korea.
  2. (2) Minister Gemba congratulated the ROK on the success of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, saying it had sent a clear message to the international community on the issue of North Korea’s launch of a missile, which North Korea called a "satellite," as well as on nuclear security and safety. He added he hoped to work with Minister Kim for further strengthening of Japan-ROK relations.
  3. (3) The two ministers shared the view that North Korea’s announcement of the launch of a missile which North Korea called a "satellite" would undermine the trend of dialogue, including the recent agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, and that they were deeply concerned about it. They also concurred on the need for close cooperation between Japan and the ROK as well as among the two countries and the U.S. and also other relevant countries, including China, in working together to urge North Korea to exercise restraint from the launch. As part of such efforts, the two ministers shared the recognition that they needed to talk seriously with their Chinese counterpart on this issue during the Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
  4. (4) The two ministers shared the recognition that if North Korea dared to conduct the launch, it would be a clear violation of the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Minister Gemba said that if the launch did take place, the international community, including the UN Security Council, would need to take appropriate measures.
  5. (5) Minister Gemba expressed gratitude to Minister Kim for the ROK’s support and cooperation on the abduction issue. The two sides agreed that they would continue to cooperate on humanitarian issues, including the issue of family reunion of separated families between the South and North.

2. Japan-ROK Relations

  1. (1) Minister Gemba expressed hope that the two countries would step up bilateral cooperation, particularly for security cooperation and for the resumption of negotiations for a Japan-ROK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The two ministers concurred on the need to continue consultations.
  2. (2) Minister Gemba asked the ROK side for the removal and easing of restrictions on visits to Japan, and for the review and relaxation of restrictions on imports from Japan so Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake could be accelerated further.
  3. (3) In addition to the above topics, the issues of Takeshima, "comfort women" and economic relations among Japan, China and the ROK, including negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the three countries were discussed in this meeting.

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