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Seoul-Tokyo Tensions Continue after Ministers Fail to Iron Out Differences

Write: 2019-08-21 19:12:19Update: 2019-08-22 08:14:25

Seoul-Tokyo Tensions Continue after Ministers Fail to Iron Out Differences

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: The latest foreign ministers’ meeting between South Korea and Japan has ended without any agreement or progress on resolving their acrimonious dispute over trade and long-standing historical issues. During the short-lived talks in Beijing on Wednesday, the two sides only confirmed their differences, fanning concerns about the future of bilateral ties.
Moon Gwang-lip has more. 

Report: Ministers Kang Kyung-wha and Taro Kono sat down together for the first time in three weeks. 

After shaking hands at Beijing Gubei Water Town Hotel in the Chinese capital on Wednesday, the top diplomats entered talks amid hopes the two sides would finally make fence-mending steps. However, it only took around 30 minutes before they parted ways in a frigid manner.   

There were some earlier indications the meeting would do little to produce a positive outcome as hoped. 

During a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting involving Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier in the day, Kang said the three countries could cooperate and move together only by squarely looking at history. Kang then criticized Japan’s unilateral trade measures against South Korea and demanded they be withdrawn.

Kono met Japanese reporters the previous night and said the kind of exchange that he wanted with Kang is one that prompts Seoul to definitively respond to South Korean court decisions over Japan’s wartime forced labor. 

He contended that improving bilateral relations is up to Seoul. 

Held a week before Tokyo’s decision to remove South Korea from its "whitelist" of preferred trade partners, the Kang-Kono meeting was considered a crucial chance for the two sides to improve ties. 

It was also arranged three days ahead of the deadline for either party to express its intent not to renew a military information-sharing pact, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement(GSOMIA).

The no-deal talks are now stoking concerns that current tensions will only get worse. However, South Korean government sources emphasized that the two sides agreed on the need to continue dialogue.

Seoul's National Security Council may hold a meeting as early as Thursday to discuss whether South Korea should keep GSOMIA for another year.
Moon Gwang-lip, KBS World Radio News.

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