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Mediation Serves as a Breakthrough for Korean-Japanese Relations

Mediation Serves as a Breakthrough for Korean-Japanese Relations

Posted January. 20, 2005 22:37,   


According to the document related to Moon Se-kwang which was unveiled on January 20, the government reportedly asked the U.S. to persuade the Japanese government, as Tokyo continued to be insincere in the investigation process.

In fact, on September 4, 1974, the South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Ham Byung-choon secretly met with then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Habib (September 9 emergency document of the Foreign Ministry), and on September 5, then Foreign Affairs Minister Kim Dong-cho met the U.S. Charge d’affaires Erickson in a personal talk and asked “the U.S. to exercise influence over then Prime Minister Tanaka and Foreign Minister Kimura through U.S. Ambassador to Japan Hodgson (September 5 document).”

In response, Erickson replied, “We hope no unexpected move further aggravates the Korean-Japanese relations.”

However, meeting Erickson on September 9 as there was no change in Japan’s position, Minister Kim said, “I told the Japanese ambassador that if an autograph letter is not sent before Prime Minister Tanaka’s visit to the U.S., we would carry out the return of the Korean ambassador to Japan, resignation of ministers, and withdrawal of foreign compounds in Japan.”

It has been also disclosed that then Assistant Secretary of State Habib made a phone call to the Korean envoy to the U.S. when the Korean-Japanese relations escalated into a serious state, saying, “We hope that Korea does not take an overly tough stance on the content of the autograph letter.”

The Korean-Japanese relationship that was facing a near-collapse found a breakthrough with the U.S. taking the role of a mediator.

Habib met with the Korean envoy to the U.S. Park Geun and the envoy to Japan Yoon Ha-jeong on September 13 and 14, respectively, and asked them to accept Japan’s proposal, saying, “Korean government’s demand for regulation over Association of Korean Residents in Japan is unreasonable (September 13, 14 Foreign Ministry Report).” Two days later, Minister Kim and the Japanese Ambassador to Korea Ushiroku reached a consensus on Prime Minister Tanaka’s autographed letter (September 17 Foreign Ministry Report).

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com