Japan’s new leader states plan to demand ‘appropriate’ action by S. Korea to address diplomatic stand-offs

October 8, 2021

Japan’s new leader said Friday he will “strongly” demand that South Korea take “appropriate” measures to end drawn-out diplomatic stand-offs between the two sides and restore healthy bilateral relations.

In his first keynote address at a parliamentary session as prime minister, Fumio Kishida signaled no immediate shift in Tokyo’s hardline stance toward Seoul, as he cited its “consistent stance.”

“(We) will strongly demand an appropriate response from South Korea in order to return the relationship to a healthy one in line with our country’s consistent position,” he stressed.

He added that South Korea is an “important neighbor,” briefly mentioning the Seoul-Tokyo ties during his relatively lengthy speech.

The tone of Kishida’s remarks on South Korea was similar to that of his predecessor Yoshihide Suga in his parliamentary speech delivered a month after his inauguration last September.

The two sides are locked in disputes over shared history, especially Japan’s wartime forced labor and sexual slavery during its brutal colonial rule of Korea from 1910-45.

On North Korea, the new prime minister called its development of nuclear and missile programs “unacceptable,” and vowed continued efforts to help resolve the North’s nuclear and other issues in steps toward realizing the normalization of diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

He also reiterated the government’s stance regarding the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea in the 1970-80s, calling it “the most important task” for which he will strive to “realize the return of every victim in the abductions.”

He added that he is “determined to sit face to face” and “without preconditions” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss the matter.