South Korea FM to make first trip to Japan

Seoul to send FM to Tokyo for first time in 4 years, but sides have much to do to narrow differences on Japanese colonial abuses

South Korea FM to make first trip to Japan

World Bulletin / News Desk 

South Korea and Japan have the opportunity to bring about a major thaw in their frosty relationship this weekend, as Seoul confirmed Wednesday that its foreign minister will pay a visit to Tokyo on Sunday.

Yun Byung-se has not been to Japan since assuming office at the start of Park Geun-hye’s presidency just over two years ago.

He had been set to make the short trip across the Sea of Japan, or East Sea as Seoul refers to it, back in 2013 -- but a spike in bilateral tensions forced the cancellation of that plan.

South Korea’s thorny relationship with Japan extends well beyond arguments over how best to refer to the body of water that separates the two countries.

There are also heated disputes concerning the ownership of tiny islets that lie between these old foes, Tokyo’s wartime abuse of thousands of Korean sex slaves and forced labor sites that have been the subject of a Japanese push for UNESCO world heritage recognition.

All of these are closely linked to a sense that Japan does not fully recognize the depth of its misdeeds on the Korean Peninsula during the last century, despite a treaty almost exactly 50 years ago that normalized their diplomatic ties.

With just 50 known Korean so-called comfort women still alive, now elderly former sex slaves protest every week outside Tokyo’s embassy in Seoul.

President Park has taken up their cause by so far refusing to hold summit talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It is significant then that Yun will meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Sunday.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement out of Seoul, they will discuss "bilateral ties, the North Korean issue and other mutual issues of concern including regional and global security situations.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Haziran 2015, 13:45