‘Moon-Abe summit possible at Apec’

22-Oct-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Cheong Wa Dae didn’t rule out the possibility of President Moon Jae-in holding a summit with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of their participation at next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) gathering in Chile.

“President Moon plans to forgo meeting with Abe at other chances including an Asean meeting in October and an Apec meeting in Chile in November. If the Seoul-Tokyo summit happens, Apec could be the right venue for the bilateral summit as US President Donald Trump is considering attending the gathering,” a presidential aide said, Monday.

“But the summit won’t take place unless Tokyo takes some visible and even constructive measures on the issue of Korean victims of forced labour during the Japanese occupation of Korea and steps to withdraw its earlier decision to impose export controls on materials.”

The official from Moon’s office said prime minister Lee Nak-yon’s visit to Tokyo to participate in the coronation of the new Japanese emperor would help Seoul and Tokyo find the “right conditions” before applying their own “exit strategy” in terms of improving bilateral relations. Lee will hold a brief in-person meeting with Abe in Tokyo, October 24.

At the National Assembly, Monday afternoon, Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers her ministry was on track to narrow key differentiations with Japan to clinch a Moon-Abe summit in Apec.

“South Korea and Japan still have differing views on key outstanding issues. Efforts should be made. We are communicating with our Japanese counterparts,” Kang said in response to a question by ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) lawmaker Rep. Park Byeong-seok over the possibility of a Moon-Abe summit in Chile. “Lee will deliver Moon’s handwritten messages when he meets with Abe,” the foreign minister said.

“Lee’s visit to Tokyo would create momentum for a bilateral summit between Moon and Abe,” another DPK lawmaker Rep. Kang Chang-il, who is also the chair of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union, said during a radio interview, Monday.

When contacted by The Korea Times, Japanese officials in Tokyo remained rather cautious about the possibility of a Moon-Abe summit in Chile as its Cabinet was still negative about holding it.

“The Japanese government is also trying to look for ways to improve relations with South Korea. But my understanding is the prime minister’s Office isn’t actually weighing in much on a Moon-Abe summit, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hoping for that,” a Japanese politician said via email. “Unless Seoul changes its stance on the wartime forced labour issue in particular, Abe will not change his mind or join the negotiations with Seoul.”

Moon and Abe didn’t meet on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders’ summit in Osaka in June this year.

Bilateral relations lie in tatters as both Seoul and Tokyo have taken steps to address a worsening standoff over the compensation of surviving South Korean forced labourers.

The South Korean Supreme Court ruled Japanese companies should compensate surviving South Korean victims of forced labour, while Japan claimed all such outstanding issues were settled in a 1965 treaty. Seoul said the treaty normalising the bilateral diplomatic relations doesn’t cover individuals’ claims. South Korea has protested Japan’s imposition of export controls, saying it would undermine their decades-old economic and security cooperation and threaten trade.



Category: Korea

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