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Koreans in Japan mixed over summit

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Workers at a South Korean restaurant in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, watch the inter-Korean summit on Friday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun For the first time in the 68 years since the Korean War broke out, the leader of North Korea crossed the military demarcation line to enter South Korea.

The third inter-Korean summit meeting — held for the first time in about 10½ years — had a conciliatory mood.

The leaders of both countries shook hands with a smile. The scene was hailed by some North and South Koreans living in Japan, with hopes expressed that the two Koreas will put an end to their long-standing confrontation. But there were contrasting views from others, who said “the sense of distrust hasn’t been dispelled.”

In Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district, which bustles with South Korean shops and restaurants, people were glued to televisions broadcasting the historic meeting.

A 52-year-old restaurant employee from the South Korean city of Daegu said: “The meeting created hope for reunification. I think this time the two countries are trying to seriously get along.”

A 48-year-old part-time worker said, “It’d be great if the relationship improved, but I don’t think it will anytime soon.”

Koreatown in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward became something of a venue for watching broadcasts of the meeting. People there sang the Korean folk song “Arirang” when the leaders of the two countries shook hands.

“A state prior to division is how my homeland really is,” said a 28-year-old from Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. “I want North Korea to show its determination for denuclearization at this meeting.”

But there also remains deep-rooted skepticism over the meeting.

A senior member of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) said: “We’d like to think the fact that North Korea’s supreme leader has crossed the military demarcation line is a sign of his commitment, which is different from the past. But that still doesn’t mean our sense of distrust has been expelled. We’d like to focus on the degree to which the result of the talks convinces the international community.”

‘Different from previous times’

The families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea are also paying close attention to the course of the summit.

South Korean President Moon Jae In previously told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he plans to take up the issue of Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese nationals at the meeting.

Fumiko Hirano, an elder sister of abductee Rumiko Masumoto, said, “The meeting strikes me as different from previous meetings.

“I’ve long been disappointed, but I still want to believe in a miracle, that things will move toward a resolution. I expect President Moon to have an in-depth conversation [over the abduction issue] with the same enthusiasm as the issues [facing] his own country,” said Hirano, 68, who lives in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture.Speech

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