S. Korean FM to make 3-day trip to Japan next week

July 15, 2022

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin will embark on a three-day trip to Japan next week to discuss areas of bilateral relations and North Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Friday.

Park’s trip from Monday to Wednesday will be the first by a foreign minister to the neighboring country under the new South Korean administration led by President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The ministry said Park will “hold a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and discuss issues of mutual interest, such as Korea-Japan relations and the Korean Peninsula issue.”

Park will also express condolences over the recent death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the ministry added.

The last time a South Korean foreign minister traveled to Japan for bilateral ministerial talks was in December of 2017.

On Monday, the foreign minister paid his respects to the late Abe in Seoul at the Japanese embassy’s public information and cultural center. Park mourned Abe’s death and offered his condolences, three days after he was fatally shot during an election campaign speech.

The minister said earlier this week that the Yoon administration will keep striving for a “reasonable resolution” to pending issues between Seoul and Tokyo through various related efforts, including his visit to Japan “at a mutually convenient time.”

The topic of settling the row over compensating Korean victims of Japan’s forced labor during World War II, when Korea was under colonial rule, could also be discussed during the trip.

South Korea’s Supreme Court is expected to issue a final verdict in August or September on whether to allow the liquidation of assets held by two Japanese companies. If realized, it would deal a serious blow to already-fragile efforts to resolve the problem and warm Seoul-Tokyo ties.

The foreign ministers could also exchange views on the Japanese ruling bloc’s push for a controversial revision to the nation’s pacifist constitution, a highly sensitive subject matter for South Koreans, which has apparently gained political momentum after Abe’s death.