All national dailies reported in their Wednesday evening editions on Foreign Minister Kono’s meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. All of the dailies wrote that Kono rejected a request from the Moon administration that Japan take additional measures for the comfort women issue and called on South Korea to steadily implement the 2015 bilateral agreement. However, the two ministers reportedly agreed to advance the overall bilateral relations in a future-oriented fashion, while appropriately managing difficult issues for their nations. Mainichi and Yomiuri wrote that Kono and Kang also agreed to apply maximum pressure on North Korea to persuade it to take specific actions toward denuclearization. Yomiuri and Nikkei added that the two officials also agreed to ensure close coordination bilaterally and trilaterally with the United States in dealing with North Korea.
On Thursday morning Asahi ran a follow-up report saying that although differences remained between the two ministers over the comfort women issue, they avoided a head-on confrontation by agreeing to advance the bilateral relations in a forward-looking manner. Yomiuri wrote that it will probably take some time for Japan and South Korea to improve ties because Tokyo remains distrustful of Seoul’s response to the bilateral comfort women agreement.