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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japanese, South Korean leaders briefly meet in Spain 

All national papers wrote that Prime Minister Kishida and ROK President Yoon exchanged greetings in Madrid on Wednesday. The premier reportedly congratulated Yoon on his election to the presidency and the victory of his ruling party in the nationwide local elections on June 1. Yoon reportedly responded by wishing Kishida a good outcome in the Upper House race on July 10. “I would like to swiftly resolve the pending issues between the two countries after Japan’s election and move forward in a future-oriented manner,” the South Korean leader was quoted as saying. In reply, Kishida promised his utmost efforts to “put the extremely severe bilateral relations back on a sound track.” President Yoon reportedly told the local press afterward that he was confident that the prime minister is a partner who can develop bilateral ties by resolving the outstanding issues. 


The articles said the Japanese leader remains cautious about jumpstarting ties with Seoul in the absence of concrete measures on the part of the Yoon administration to resolve the history disputes. Kishida is reportedly afraid that he would be criticized by conservative forces at home if he responded to Seoul’s overtures prematurely. Asahi explained that while the Yoon administration appears to be looking into several options to resolve the wartime forced labor dispute, it will be extremely difficult to devise a viable solution that can satisfy both the victims and conservative LDP politicians. Mainichi said time is running out for Seoul to come up with a workable solution because local legal procedures to liquidate assets held by Japanese steel firms in South Korea for use as compensation are moving forward steadily. “Such a development would cause irreparable damage,” remarked an unnamed senior Japanese diplomat.       


In a related development, Asahi reported that South Korea has decided to issue beginning in July multiple visas to tourists from Japan, Taiwan, and Macau to help rebuild the domestic tourism industry. Also noting that direct flights between Haneda and Gimpo Airport were resumed yesterday, the daily said momentum for rapprochement between the two countries is slowly building.     

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