Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Friday urged his South Korean counterpart to work to improve Tokyo-Seoul relations as they remain strained over issues related to Japan’s colonial rule on the Korean peninsula, including wartime labor issues.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks to reporters July 8, 2022 on the Indonesian island of Bali. (Kyodo)
Hayashi told a press conference that he had a brief chat with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on the sidelines of a two-day foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of 20 major economies from Thursday on the Indonesian island of Bali.
During the conversation, Park conveyed his condolences over the passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who died after being shot during a stump speech in western Japan on the same day, Hayashi told reporters. journalists.
Hayashi and Park also held trilateral talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the first such gathering since South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol took office in early May.
The meeting comes after Pyongyang has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles since the start of the year, with growing concerns the reclusive nation may carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test, and the first since 2017.
(L to R) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin are pictured ahead of their talks in Bali, Indonesia, July 8, 2022. (Kyodo)
Late last month, the leaders of the three countries held a meeting in Madrid, the first such trilateral summit since September 2017, agreeing on the importance of strengthening regional deterrence through defense cooperation.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden and Yoon held talks on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit after NATO invited the leaders of Japan and South Korea South at the top for the first time. The two Asian countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, were considered partner countries by the transatlantic alliance.
The three nations last held face-to-face ministerial talks in Hawaii in February, the first since Hayashi took office in November.
Following a series of provocative acts by Pyongyang, defense ministers from the three nations met in Singapore in June on the sidelines of the annual Asia Security Summit and pledged to conduct for the first time “trilateral exercises missile warning and ballistic missile search and tracking”. since December 2017.
The talks by top diplomats from the three countries are taking place following a change in South Korea’s government that has given fresh impetus to the improvement of the soured bilateral relations between Tokyo and Seoul.
Yoon’s tougher stance on Pyongyang compared to his predecessor and his eagerness to forge closer ties with the United States and Japan appear to be helping the three countries align more closely to pressure North Korea.
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