All dailies took up a press conference held in Seoul yesterday by new South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo. He reportedly vowed to improve bilateral relations with Tokyo that have been strained over the comfort women and requisitioned workers disputes. He was quoted as saying: “The present status of bilateral ties is extremely regrettable and differs greatly from the goal or direction that President Moon is aiming for.” With regard to the lingering history disputes, the new envoy reportedly stressed that diplomats must make utmost efforts to prevent them from damaging overall relations.
Meanwhile, Sankei wrote in its lead story that arrangements are underway between the Japanese and the ROK governments to hold a bilateral defense ministerial on the margins of the annual Shangri La dialogue that will begin in Singapore on May 31. While predicting that North Korea’s denuclearization will be high on the agenda, the article speculated that the radar illumination incident that occurred last December in the Sea of Japan may also be addressed. The paper said some GOJ and LDP officials are cautious about resuming the bilateral defense exchanges that have been suspended since the incident because Seoul has insisted that it never happened in the first place. While an unnamed LDP parliamentarian who belongs to the party’s defense clique reportedly said the matter must be taken up in the proposed meeting, some Defense Ministry officials are unenthusiastic about discussing it because they want the session to be “constructive” in view of the possibility of a deterioration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.