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Make Abe-Moon talks serve as a step forward to build future-oriented ties

The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is significant to repeatedly convey the Japanese government’s position on the issues of comfort women and North Korea. Trying not to shake the principles is a step forward for the constructive relationship between Japan and South Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In on the sidelines of Abe’s visit to South Korea for the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics. This is their first bilateral meeting since September last year. In January, the Moon administration criticized the comfort women agreement reached between the two countries, saying the accord “does not truly resolve the issue.” In effect, it has called for additional measures.

During the talks, the prime minister held the stance that his government cannot accept a series of moves in the Moon administration’s handling of the issue, saying, “The agreement is a promise made between countries, and it should be upheld even after an administration change.”

Moon said, “To truly resolve the issue, both governments should make efforts to restore the victims’ honor and dignity.”

The agreement confirmed a “final and irreversible resolution” to the comfort women issue. The Moon administration’s act of bringing up the issue is a remarkable contravention of good faith.

The Japan-South Korea accord includes a call for the South Korean government to make “efforts” toward appropriately solving the issue of a statue of a girl in Seoul symbolizing comfort women. The Moon administration should work on the removal of the statue.

ROK must not waver on North

The two leaders agreed to build a “future-oriented” relationship. In Japan, caution was strong over Abe’s visit to South Korea. Moon should seriously comprehend the implication that Abe took a risk by visiting South Korea to prioritize the improvement of bilateral ties.

The Moon administration has used the comfort women issue to maintain a unifying force within South Korea. It could move in step with North Korea to ramp up “anti-Japanese” sentiment. Regarding historical issues, it is crucial for the Japanese government not to allow South Korea to undermine principles.

During the latest talks, Abe and Moon agreed to aim at holding a trilateral meeting of Japanese, Chinese and South Korean leaders at an early date. Such a meeting has not been held since 2015.

It is necessary to deepen relationships at various levels, including economic and cultural exchanges, by carrying out diplomacy in which the leaders of states including China make regular reciprocal visits.

As for North Korea, Abe and Moon reaffirmed a policy of raising pressure to the maximum degree to make the country abandon its nuclear and missile development programs.

Abe said during the talks: “The firm trilateral relationship of Japan, the United States and South Korea will never be shaken. North Korea must be aware of it.” He also warned Moon over leaning toward a conciliatory approach to Pyongyang, saying, “Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless.”

North Korea has approached the South through inter-Korean talks and the Olympics to alienate Seoul from Japan and the United States. Behind its smiling diplomacy, Pyongyang has apparently continued its nuclear and missile development.

Economic sanctions intended to make North Korea change its policy must be continued.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 10, 2018)Speech



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