By Yuta Abe and Yuya Yokobori / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers BANGKOK — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to find ways to ease heightened tensions between Tokyo and Seoul during a three-way meeting held in Bangkok on Friday.
At the trilateral meeting, Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha each held fast to their government’s respective positions and in the end remained on different tracks.
The talks were held for about 30 minutes on the sidelines of a foreign ministers’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
Kono claimed that the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling ordering a Japanese company to pay compensation to Korean wartime requisitioned workers violated the 1965 bilateral agreement that settled claims for compensation. Kono said that South Korea should work on rectifying the breach of international law.
Kang, meanwhile, insisted it is not fair that the Japanese government decided to remove South Korea from the list of countries eligible for preferential trade treatment. Kang is believed to have hinted that South Korea may potentially scrap the General Security of Military Agreement, or GSOMIA, if Japan does not reverse the decision.
Pompeo urged Japan and South Korea to discuss with each other and make efforts to solve the issue, noting that they are key U.S. partners.
A high-ranking U.S. government official said the United States has proposed to Japan and South Korea that they not take any further tough measures.
However, a senior Foreign Ministry official said that the United States has never made such a proposal, and did not do so at the Bangkok meeting either.