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Ahn says historical issues with Japan are separate

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Ahn Cheol Soo shakes hands with a supporter in Seoul on Monday.

By Takeo Miyazaki / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent SEOUL — Ahn Cheol Soo, a candidate in the ongoing South Korean presidential election, told The Yomiuri Shimbun he will separate historical issues from security, economic and other matters in Japan-South Korean relations.

In a letter responding to questions from The Yomiuri Shimbun, Ahn expressed his intention to employ “two-track diplomacy” toward Japan. Ahn, 55, is a former leader of the center-left People’s Party, the second-strongest opposition party.

“Based on the spirit of the 1998 Japan-South Korea joint declaration released by President Kim Dae Jung and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, we need to aim at realizing future-oriented development, standing in a position to face the past,” Ahn said, taking a positive stance toward concluding a free-trade agreement between the two countries and resuming currency swaps.

Regarding the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which has received some opposition in South Korea, Ahn said, “It’s militarily important to thoroughly monitor the progress of nuclear missile development by North Korea.”

He also insisted that the bilateral deal on comfort women concluded in late 2015 should be revised based on the agreement of relevant parties. Ahn said the issue is “not like a security issue” and “the people directly involved [former comfort women] are still alive.”

He also showed that he respects South Korea’s ties with the United States, saying he supports the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system — a state-of-the-art missile defense system — to U.S. forces in South Korea. China opposes the deployment.

If Ahn wins the election, he “will meet U.S. President Donald Trump at an early date to hold discussions focusing on security issues,” he said.

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