South Korea, Japan signal intention to mend ties

The South Korean and Japan leaders have share messages of hope for bilateral relations on 50th anniversary of key treaty

South Korea, Japan signal intention to mend ties

World Bulletin / News Desk

 South Korean President Park Geun-hye reached out to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe via Seoul’s top diplomat Monday, in the latest indication of improving bilateral ties.

Park has refused to hold a one-on-one summit with Abe since her inauguration in 2013. Years of bitterness have built up over Seoul’s sense that Tokyo has not adequately atoned for its 1910-45 colonial era abuses.

Both leaders agreed the previous day to attend events at each other’s embassies Monday, exactly 50 years after the signature of a treaty that normalized diplomatic ties following Japan’s colonial rule over Korea.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se marked the occasion by carrying a message expressing Park’s hope that relations will “start anew” this year, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Abe told Yun at his official residence that he “would like to improve and develop ties toward the next half-a-century, together with President Park, for the people of both nations and the next generation.”

Of more practical significance, the Japanese prime minister also emphasized the importance of confronting disputes that have presented a far bigger barrier than the narrow sea that separates the two countries.

During his first trip to Japan in his current role, Yun appeared to make a breakthrough with counterpart Fumio Kishida on Sunday. He told reporters that they “agreed to consult closely” over Japan’s efforts to earn UNESCO recognition for industrial revolution sites that were also destinations for Koreans forced into labor.

Members of the World Heritage Committee will gather in Germany later this month to decide whether to accept Tokyo’s application.

It remains far less clear whether Japan is willing to seriously discuss the demands of surviving former sex slaves -- just 50 known Korean “comfort women” are still alive, awaiting compensation and a direct apology from Tokyo.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Haziran 2015, 10:57