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Washington is seeking to revitalize ties between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, ahead of the U.S.-Japan summit slated for next week

#Hot Issues of the Week l 2023-01-08



U.S. President Joe Biden is slated to hold a bilateral summit 

with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington on Friday next week. 

The State Department says Biden will seek to strengthen 

a three-way coordination with Seoul and Tokyo during the meeting 

to deal with North Korea and other key issues in the region. 

This comes amid media reports from Japan, 

suggesting Seoul and Tokyo 

might be able to salvage their strained ties within months.

Ahead of the U.S.-Japan summit slated for next week, Washington is seeking to revitalize ties between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday highlighted the significance of the three-way cooperation during a press briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington. 

[Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price]

"This administration, since our earliest days, has sought to revitalize the trilateral format, bringing together our ROK and Japanese allies, knowing that the challenges we confront in the Indo-Pacific – as well as the opportunities but certainly the challenges – would benefit from a seamless and unified trilateral approach."

Unlike the previous Moon Jae-in administration, the Yoon Suk Yeol administration in Seoul appears to be more willing to salvage strained bilateral ties with Japan over thorny wartime issues. 

The state department spokesman said ways to enhance their trilateral cooperation will feature as a key topic at the summit next week, especially in the face of growing threats from North Korea. 

[Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price]

"President Biden was able to bring together his trilateral counterparts in the Indo-Pacific region just a couple of months ago as well.  This will be a topic of conversation with our Japanese allies.  It’s a topic of conversation with our ROK allies just as the threat that the region – Japan, the ROK, other allies and partners – face from the DPRK in the context of next week’s discussions."

Amid signs of thawing Seoul-Tokyo ties, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun daily said on Saturday that the Japanese government is reviewing whether to invite South Korean President Yoon to the Group of Seven summit scheduled in Hiroshima, Japan in May.

The daily said Japan is considering the invitation in a bid to step up solidarity with countries sharing the same values such as democracy and the rule of law in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, growing Chinese supremacy and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The daily then cautiously speculated that the issue of wartime forced labor compensation may be key to a final decision on the matter. 

Seoul's foreign ministry will hold an open debate next week on the issue of compensation for Koreans forced to work in Japan during World War II, which has been a major hurdle for the two neighbors to mend fences.

The issue dates back to a Seoul court ruling in 2018, which ordered Japanese corporations to pay one-hundred million won each to Korean forced labor victims. In the following year, Japan delisted South Korea from the so-called trade whitelist, making it tougher for Korean companies to import key items from Japan needed in the manufacturing of their core export items such as semiconductors.

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