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Japan, S. Korea politicians agree to seek denuclearized N. Korea

Japanese and South Korean lawmakers agreed Monday to closely cooperate bilaterally and trilaterally with the United States toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the head of Japan’s lower house said.

“We shared the view that North Korea’s nuclear and missile issue is extremely urgent and that denuclearization (of North Korea) is a common strategic goal between Japan and South Korea,” House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima told a press conference after the politicians’ gathering in Seoul.

Oshima is leading a delegation of nine Japanese nonpartisan lawmakers for talks with 16 South Korean counterparts, including National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye Kyun, in Seoul.

But the two sides did not completely agree as to how to realize the goal, according to Oshima.

The conference on “future dialogue” between the South Korean and Japanese assemblies followed a formal meeting over the weekend between a high-ranking North Korean delegation and President Moon Jae In.

Most of the Japanese participants claimed that it is necessary to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons development by pressure, rather than “dialogue for the sake of dialogue,” Oshima said.

Meanwhile, some South Korean members requested their Japanese counterparts to understand that what is happening between the two Koreas is not dialogue for the sake of dialogue, but rather “dialogue toward denuclearization,” the Japanese veteran lawmaker added.

After the gathering, Oshima met with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak Yeon. The two expressed their support for the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula and also took up the thorny bilateral issue of “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

Tokyo and Seoul have recently been at odds over the matter after Moon’s administration expressed hopes for Japan’s fresh apology for the victims despite a 2015 bilateral agreement aimed at settling the issue “finally and irreversibly.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Moon repeated their claims and failed to find common ground during their summit Friday ahead of the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Abe urged Seoul to steadily implement the agreement, but Moon reiterated that the deal would not resolve the issue as long as it is hard for the victims and the Korean people to accept it.

Oshima quoted Lee as saying South Korea will not request Japan to do more and it is important to implement what was promised between the countries.

The Japanese lawmakers, who are on a three-day trip to South Korea that began Saturday, watched an ice hockey match and figure skating by Japanese athletes in the Winter Olympics, which runs through Feb. 25.


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