To ensure the peace and prosperity of East Asia, it is essential for Japan, China and South Korea to repeatedly hold dialogues to pursue cooperation.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida; his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi; and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung Se, held talks in Tokyo. The three ministers reaffirmed that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development is unacceptable and that the three countries will work toward prompting North Korea to use restraint.
On the morning of the same day that the talks were held, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The missile flew about 500 kilometers and fell into the Sea of Japan, inside Japan’s air defense identification zone. North Korea’s improvements in its SLBM technology, which has strong capabilities to launch surprise attacks, pose a great threat to neighboring countries.
In the talks, Kishida strongly criticized North Korea and called for strengthening cooperation among Japan, China and South Korea. South Korea’s Yun pointed out the importance of “united responses.”
It was only reasonable that Kishida has asked Wang to ensure that China rightly fulfill its role as “a responsible permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.”
North Korea has repeatedly fired ballistic missiles, and the Security Council considered issuing a condemnation statement from early July. But because of China’s opposition, it was never achieved. Wang explicitly said China “opposes any moves that run counter to UNSC resolutions.” As long as China takes this position, it should match its words with its actions.
Potential benefits huge
The three ministers confirmed their countries would accelerate negotiations on free trade agreements and promote such fields as environmental and antidisaster cooperation and youth exchanges. The benefits that the three countries could receive from such cooperation are potentially huge.
Each nation should work to realize trilateral summit talks in Japan before year-end.
In his bilateral talks with Wang, Kishida brought up the issue of the repeated intrusions by many Chinese government vessels into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. The Japanese foreign minister demanded China “completely calm the situation” and stop a recurrence.
Wang made a far-fetched excuse, saying: “It [the Japanese side] is inciting the issue. The situation is now back to normal.”
China’s actions are said to be aimed at restraining Japan, which is urging China to obey the ruling by a court of arbitration over the issue of the South China Sea.
But China’s attempt to change the status quo by force will have only adverse effects, strengthening the international community’s perception of China as a threat.
China is urged to refrain from taking provocative and counterproductive actions.
Kishida also met with South Korea’s Yun separately and notified him of Japan’s decision to contribute ¥1 billion to a foundation set up by the South Korean government to support former comfort women.
In this connection, it is appropriate that Japan has emphasized its stance of faithfully implementing the Japan-South Korea deal reached late last year. This will lead to a positive response from South Korea toward solving the comfort women issue “finally and irreversibly.”
Efforts to realize the removal of a statue of a girl symbolizing comfort women erected in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul are having difficulty due to the opposition of organizations concerned. We will keep watching the coordination within South Korea.