South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s delegation to Japan met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday and delivered Yoon’s personal letter to Kishida, encouraging that the two countries inherit and develop the spirit of the Kim-Obuchi declaration in 1998. Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the head of the delegation, said the Japanese PM agreed on the idea. However, the Japanese PM reiterated the stance that the bilateral relations can be improved only by addressing a South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling to seize assets of Japanese companies in Korea to compensate forced labor victims.
After having a 25-minute meeting with Japanese PM Kishida at his official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday, Rep. Chung said the two sides shared the understanding that two countries should make efforts for the future-oriented development of relations and for shared interests. The Kim-Obuchi Joint Declaration includes Japan’s apology for its colonial rule and the future-oriented development of South Korea-Japan relations. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kishida said strategic cooperation between South Korea and Japan is now more necessary than ever, adding the issue of improving bilateral relations cannot wait any longer.
Regarding the issue of Japan’s wartime forced labor and sexual slavery, which are the thorniest issue between the two countries, Rep. Chung said he understands the strict perception of Japan regarding the sales and the seizure of Japanese companies’ assets for forced labor compensation, adding he will make diplomatic efforts to find a solution acceptable to all parties.
As for the Japanese prime minister’s remarks made during the opening statement, Chung said it is necessary to address current issues between the two countries, including the issue of workers from the Korean Peninsula. According to a diplomatic source, Kishida said he wants South Korea to recognize the importance of addressing the sales of Japanese companies’ assets in improving the bilateral relations.
Regarding whether the Japanese prime minister would attend the inauguration ceremony of South Korea’s incoming president on May 10, Chung said there was no invitation to the ceremony as it is a matter to be decided by Japan according to custom, but added that the new administration is ready to treat the Japanese prime minister cordially if Japan expresses intention to attend.