S. Korea demands Japan take sincere steps to realise summit

18-Mar-2014 Intellasia | Yonhap | 6:00 AM Print This Post

South Korea has no reason to reject summit talks with Japan if the neighbouring nation takes sincere steps on history issues to create the right conditions for such talks to produce substantial results, Seoul’s presidential spokesman said Monday.

Prospects for a summit between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe have risen after Park reacted positively over the weekend to Abe’s promise to honor Japan’s past statements of apology for its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

Reports have since speculated that Park could meet with Abe either one-on-one or in a three-way summit with US President Barack Obama when the leaders gather in The Hague later this month for this year’s meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit.

If realised, such a meeting would mark a significant thaw and a watershed in relations between Seoul and Tokyo, as Park has shunned a summit with Abe in anger over Japan’s refusal to take responsibility for colonial-era atrocities, including its use of Korean women as sex slaves.

“There is no reason for us to refuse to hold dialogue if Japan shows a sincere attitude and creates the conditions where constructive dialogue is possible,” Seoul’s presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told reporters.

“Our government believes it is important to hold dialogue where productive results can be made,” he said. “In order to create the conditions where productive dialogue is possible, Japan should take sincere steps as early as possible on the issue of history perception and other matters of the past.”

Min did not elaborate on what measures South Korea wants Japan to take to show its seriousness.

On Friday, Abe said he would inherit Japan’s 1993 and 1995 statements of apology for the colonial rule, known as the “Kono statement” and the “Murayama statement,” respectively, without revising them. Seoul has considered the two statements to be the basis of its relations with Japan.

Park welcomed Abe’s remark, saying it is fortunate for the Japanese leader to state such a position even though belatedly. Park also said she hopes the move will lead to Japan resolving the long-running grievances of former sex slaves and improve relations with South Korea.

The Abe government has taken a series of steps appealing to nationalistic sentiments at home, most of them aimed largely at glorifying the country’s militaristic past and whitewashing its wartime atrocities, sharply cooling Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.

In December, Abe paid his respects at a war shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals, in a visit denounced as an attempt to beautify its Imperialistic past. Abe was the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the shrine in more than seven years.

Frayed relations between Seoul and Tokyo have also been a cause for concern for the United States, as Washington seeks to form a three-way security alliance with the two Asian nations to counter a rising China.

The US State Department welcomed Abe’s promise to honor past apologies as a positive step forward.



Category: Korea

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