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Abe should show commitment to resolving sex slavery issue at Seoul-Tokyo summit

Abe should show commitment to resolving sex slavery issue at Seoul-Tokyo summit

Posted October. 17, 2015 07:17,   


South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is visiting the United States, said she will hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the South Korea-China-Japan trilateral summit to be held in Seoul in two weeks. It would be the first Seoul-Tokyo summit since Park`s inauguration in February 2013 and the first since one between Lee Myung-bak and Yoshihiko Noda in May 2012. She said that the trilateral summit will become an important opportunity for peace and stability in Northeast Asia as well as for the improvement of relations between South Korea and Japan. She also noted that if the Seoul-Tokyo summit discusses the direction for forward-looking development to make progress in the World War II sex slavery issue. So far, Seoul`s position has been that there would be no summit until Japan proposes a progressive solution to the Japanese military`s wartime sex slavery issue. It seems that working-level officials have been able to untangle complicated issue to the extent that a summit can take place.

The lack of a summit between Seoul and Tokyo – both important allies to the United States, was also a major conundrum for Washington. In that respect, Park`s unveiling of her plan for a summit with Abe in a question-and-answer session after her speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, can be seen as her gift to the U.S. The trilateral security cooperation among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington is of great importance in order for South Korea to play a pivotal role in the U.S. rebalancing in Asia and to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, one of the key agendas at the South Korea-U.S. summit held Friday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan. The two neighbors should address decades-old disputes in order to be able to go together toward the future. Since his inauguration in 2012, the Japanese prime minister has put the situation in Northeast Asia into turmoil by causing frictions with Seoul and Beijing over history and territorial issues. Abe should refrain from making remarks provoking South Koreans with a view to boosting his domestic popularity and propose solutions to address the issues. One who has tied a knot must unite it. We hope that the South Korean government to display its diplomatic competence so that it can solidify its roles in strengthening the trilateral cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo and among Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.