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Secretary Kerry urges ROK to improve ties with Japan

All Thursday evening papers reported that Secretary of State Kerry spoke by phone with his South Korean counterpart Yun on Wednesday evening and agreed on the importance of improving relations between Seoul and Tokyo that have suffered a setback following the installation of a comfort woman memorial in Busan. The talks were initiated by the USG, which is reportedly deeply concerned about the reemergence of friction between its two key Asian allies. Although the Secretary apparently did not mention the comfort woman statue specifically, he urged both sides to exercise restraint and said: “A difficult situation has emerged between Japan and South Korea….. The United States will play the necessary role in improving the bilateral ties and strengthen trilateral cooperation.” In reply, the ROK official pledged Seoul’s utmost efforts to develop a future-oriented relationship with Tokyo. 

 

In a follow-up report, Asahi wrote today that the USG was surprised by Japan’s strong response, including the temporary recall of its ambassador to South Korea, adding that the Secretary is likely to phone FM Kishida soon to ask him to hold calm dialogue with Seoul. 

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