Korean government's next diplomatic step towards Japan following meeting of two leaders

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Published on 13 Feb 2018, 12:19
아베 "지도자, 비판감수해야"…文대통령에 위안부합의 이행요구

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe disclosed his opposition to retooling the 2015 Seoul-Tokyo pact on the wartmime sex slavery issue to his parliament.
The matter is just one of many contributing factors in deteriorating bilteral ties... as such, attention shifts to the South Korean government's next diplomatic step.
Cha Sang-mi provides an analysis of the situation and what's to come.
The Seoul-Tokyo relationship seems to still be in limbo.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday told Japan's parliament that he had strongly called on his South Korean counterpart to abide by the agreement the two countries had reached on “comfort women" in 2015.
Abe reiterated that the 2015 agreement was (quote) "final and irreversible", showing no room for a change in stance.
Abe's remarks come after his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the Pyeongchang Olympics opening ceremony last Friday.

Yet experts say Seoul can't have a hostile relationship with Tokyo over Japan's wartime atrocities, as the two countries need to work together on other issues, such as North Korea's nuclear weapons.
This makes it critical that the next diplomatic step by South Korean government is delicate and well thought out.

"The Moon Administration is expected to adopt the 'two-track strategy'. This approach refers to resolving issues by separating historical problems from the current diplomatic ones."

The expert says Tokyo had previously been so opposed to the strategy that Abe had at first even declined to come to PyeongChang for the summit meeting, but later decided to come as he valued cooperation with Seoul and Washington regarding North Korea's nuclear programs.

Yet when it comes to pressuring Pyongyang, experts say there is a huge difference between Japan and South Korea, with Tokyo pushing for stronger sanctions and pressure than Seoul.

"Since the gap between South Korea and Japan became clear during this summit, the South Korean government shouldn't make the 'comfort women' issue into a big problem. It is more important to manage the issue with strategic ambiguity."

The expert added that this is in line with the 1998 'Japan-South Korea Declaration for Partnership', in which the two nations agreed to cooperate and look towards the future.

Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.

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