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Japanese And South Korean Leaders Agree To Mend The Relationship Between Both Nations During A Meeting In Cambodia

Japan and South Korea have had a complicated relationship due to Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula and the painful memories Koreans have of that time period. The unwillingness of Japanese leaders to acknowledge the crimes committed by Japanese on Koreans has not helped. But leader of both the nations are now attempting to mend the relationship between two nations, two nations which are crucial in East Asia, especially in the context of China’s growing ambitions.

The leaders of South Korea and Japan agreed Sunday to keep up efforts to resolve their thorny historical disputes as they’re pushing to bolster security cooperation with the United States to better deal with North Korean nuclear threats.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met twice on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Cambodia — first with the US president in a trilateral summit and then with each other in a bilateral summit.

In the bilateral meeting, Yoon and Kishida agreed to continue consultations to find an early resolution to historical issues, according to Yoon’s office.

The statement didn’t elaborate what the issue was, but it was an apparent reference to a long-running dispute over 2018 court rulings in Seoul that ordered two Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who had been mobilized as forced laborers during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The ruling plunged bilateral ties to their lowest point in decades, as the companies and the Japanese government argued that all compensation issues had already been settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized the countries’ relations and refused to accept the verdicts. The countries also downgraded each other’s trade status and Seoul threatened to abandon an intelligence-sharing deal.

The friction between South Korea-Japan has been a challenge for US as it has complicated American efforts to build a trilateral alliance in East Asia, to deter North Korea .

South Korean and Japan have been seeking to find ways to resolve the disputes since Yoon came into office in May. Moon is a conservative and he wants to boost Seoul’s military alliance with the U.S. and mend ties with Japan.

North Korea’s provocative actions and missile tests are forcing South Korea and Japan to keep aside their historical difference and attempt to work on the basis of a common shared interest.

During the bilateral summit on Sunday, the Japanese and South Korean leader agreed that North Korea’s missile tests are a “grave provocation” and that they pose a risk to regional stability.

During talks with the US President, the three leaders released a joint statement saying that the three will work together to enhance deterrence and to make sure that North Korea is not able to find a way around the economic sanctions. Biden attempted to reassure the Japanese and South Korea leader by saying that US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan is ironclad.

Back in September, Yoon and Kishida held their first meeting during the UNGA and they agreed that it was necessary to mend their countries’ ties.

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