Gaps Seen between Japan, S. Korea over Fence-Mending


Tokyo, Nov. 23 (Jiji Press)--South Korea is keen to quickly improve its relationship with Japan, which is thought to be at its worst in the postwar period, while Tokyo remains cautious due to its frustration at Seoul's response to the issue of wartime labor.

Park Jie-won, South Korea's top intelligence official, and Kim Jin-pyo, head of a league of South Korean lawmakers promoting relations between the two Asian neighbors, visited Tokyo and met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Nov. 1 and Nov. 13, respectively, as Seoul ramps up its efforts to mend fences with Tokyo under the new Japanese leader, who took office some two months ago.

Park, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, proposed that Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in issue a new bilateral declaration calling for a political solution in which pending matters, such as the wartime labor issue and Japan's tightening of export controls on South Korea, will be shelved.

The Japanese government believes that behind the moves by South Korea are its intentions to realize a trilateral summit among the two countries plus China by year-end as it currently serves as chair of the three-way dialogue framework and to leverage next year's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to advance its relations with North Korea.

But Japan's distrust of South Korea continues growing, with Seoul taking no measure to stop the procedures to convert into cash assets of Japanese companies seized by plaintiffs involved in wartime labor lawsuits in which South Korea's top court ordered the firms to pay compensation to South Koreans who were requisitioned to work for them during World War II.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press