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U.S. Ambassador to Japan unofficially visits Korea

Posted December. 13, 2022 07:45,   

Updated December. 13, 2022 07:45


U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel visited Korea and met with Foreign Affairs Minister Park Jin. Ambassador Emanuel is a key member of the Democratic Party of the U.S. and is one of the close confidants of President Joe Biden. He also served as the White House Chief of Staff in the Obama administration. As Korea and Japan are actively working together to resolve the issue of wartime forced labor, the ambassador is expected to play an active mediator to improve ties between the two countries.

According to a diplomatic source, Mr. Emanuel arrived in Korea on the weekends and went downtown Seoul including Gwangjang Market, before visiting the Panmunjom truce village. On Monday, the U.S. diplomat had an unofficial meeting with Minister Park. The source said that the meeting wasn’t about discussing details of specific issues.

Considering the influence of Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, an important figure in U.S. politics, this visit to Korea carries a huge significance for both Korea and Japan. As the two countries are eager to resolve one of their biggest issues, it is possible that he expressed Washington’s active support or intent to work as a mediator for this wartime forced labor issue to Minister Park. Ambassador Emanuel spoke strongly about the need to improve Korea-Japan relations at his confirmation hearing when he was nominated as the ambassador last year. With regard to the conflict over historical issues between Korea and Japan, he said, "No one wants the opportunity of the 21st century to be blown away due to the issues of the 20th century." Earlier in April, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Ambassador Emanuel boarded the U.S. aircraft carrier Lincoln and said, "We are looking forward to a new beginning of the Korea-U.S.-Japan relations based on our renewed friendship."

In the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries and the 2008 presidential election, Ambassador Emmanuel led the victory of then-first-term Senator Obama and served as the first chief of staff. There was an interesting story of Mr. Emanuel claiming he was too busy to talk, so he handed the phone to Mr. Obama when a U.S. House of Representatives member called.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com