Japan-Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Occasion of the Third ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Japan-Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Occasion of the Third ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting

26 May 2001

Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Tanaka, who was visiting Beijing to attend the Third ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting, met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Han Seung Soo of the Republic of Korea (ROK) for over one hour on the morning of 26 May. The following is an outline of their meeting.

In the meeting, Foreign Minister Tanaka and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Han had an in-depth exchange of views on a broad range of issues, including matters of concern for both countries and the situation surrounding North Korea, in a frank and congenial atmosphere.

1. Overview of Japan-ROK Relations

Both ministers shared views on the following items:

(1) To commend the steady progress being made in Japan-ROK bilateral relations based on the Japan-ROK Joint Declaration following the 1998 visit to Japan of President Kim Dae Jung of the ROK.

(2) To continue to make efforts toward developing Japan-ROK friendly and cooperative relations.

(3) To positively co-host next year's FIFA World Cup and implement various events related to the Year of Japan-ROK National Exchange.

2. History Textbook Issue

(1) Japan's comments:

Japan is genuinely worried about the history textbook issue and is fully aware of the severe atmosphere in the ROK. The Japanese Government's historical perspective remains the same as the one represented in the statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Japan received the ROK's request of 35 revisions, which the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is examining seriously, sincerely and prudently. The historical perspectives represented in a specific textbook should not be identified as those of the Japanese Government. Furthermore, Japan would like to implement measures including those to advance exchange of historians and the younger generations through the promotion of mutual visits and other human exchange.

(2) The ROK's response:

The atmosphere in the ROK is severe. The ROK would like Japan to make special efforts to take visible steps, such as revising the textbooks. The ROK would like this message to be conveyed to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Atsuyo Toyama. The ROK is anticipating in particular that Prime Minister Koizumi, who is endeavoring to implement reforms, to exercise future-oriented political leadership to ameliorate Japan's relations with its neighboring countries. Human exchange, such as mutual visits by the younger generation, is important.

3. Issue of Voting Rights in Local Elections

(1) Japan explained that this issue was being debated seriously in the Diet.

(2) The ROK responded that it was aware it would take some time, expressing hope for the early passage of the bill.

4. Issue of Visits to Yasukuni Shrine

(1) The ROK noted that it would like Japan to act prudently, taking into account the feelings of its neighboring countries.

(2) In response, Foreign Minister Tanaka stated that she did not intend to visit the shrine as a Minister of State, affirming that she understood Prime Minister Koizumi's comment to represent his wish to offer his respects and appreciation to those that fell in World War II, and that it intended neither to justify nor glorify it.

5. FIFA World Cup and the Year of Japan-ROK National Exchange

(1) The ROK requested that Japan arrange visa exemptions and establish shuttle flights between Haneda and Kimpo in view of the co-hosting of the FIFA World Cup and the Year of Japan-Korea National Exchange next year.

(2) As regards the exemption of visas, Japan stated that it would make positive efforts with the ROK to activate the exchange of nationals between both countries. With regard to shuttle flights, it explained the situation concerning Japan's airports, affirming that it would convey the request to Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Chiakage Ogi.

6. Economic Issues

Trade and investment expansion will be examined at the working level.

7. Issues Relating to North Korea

(1) With regard to these issues, both ministers shared the view that the continued close cooperation between Japan, the United States of America and the ROK was essential, in addition to Japan-ROK, ROK-US and Japan-US cooperation.

(2) Japan commented that it would support President Kim Dae Jung's policy of engagement toward North Korea, to which the ROK expressed its appreciation, that political initiative was vital for proceeding with its relations with North Korea, and that despite the difficult issues between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction of Japanese nationals and missile issues, it would tenaciously address these issues.

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