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S. Korean PM could meet with Abe during his visit to Japan

S. Korean PM could meet with Abe during his visit to Japan

Posted October. 10, 2019 07:43,   

Updated October. 10, 2019 07:43


South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon is expected to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony for Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito on October 22. It has been 13 months since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last met with a South Korean government official in September last year during a bilateral summit between the two countries. Eyes are one whether Seoul and Tokyo will be able to resolve a diplomatic feud through an upcoming meeting.

According to a diplomatic source on Wednesday, Seoul and Tokyo are arranging a meeting between Lee and Abe later this month and Lee is likely to deliver President Moon Jae-in’s message that is aimed at mending ties with Japan. “South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon is scheduled to attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony on October 22, and a short meeting between Lee and Abe is under consideration,” Japanese broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday, quoting a Japanese official.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe will have separate meetings with dignitaries from countries around the world between October 21 and 25 during their visit to Japan for the Japanese Emperor’s enthronement ceremony.

If a meeting actually takes place between Lee, a pro-Japanese official in the Moon administration, and the Japanese prime minister, the two are likely to express their willingness to resolve the wartime forced labor issue and discuss ways to establish communication channels to settle the current Seoul-Tokyo dispute. Some say the two will also discuss the issue of restoring the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) that will expire on November 22 and withdrawing Japan’s export restrictions.

But it is still unclear if the South Korean prime minister’s visit to Japan would mend bilateral ties all at once. The possibility of President Moon Jae-in visiting Japan for the enthronement ceremony and having a bilateral summit with the Japanese prime minister was initially raised, but Japan reportedly showed a skeptical reaction. “Japan continues to disregard South Korea’s repeated proposals for dialogue,” said a Cheong Wa Dae official.

Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com · Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com