South Korea’s conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol won the presidential election last May. Since he became the president, the country has undergone massive policy changes. New President Yoon Suk-yeol took no time at all to depart from the somewhat liberal and pacifist policies pursued by predecessor Moon Jae-in. Among these policy changes are several important aspects of South Korea’s relationship with Japan.
As a result, many believed that South Korea’s new foreign minister Pak Jin would make significant progress in resolving bilateral relations during his first visit to Japan. But nothing like that actually happened. Therefore, many people have started to question the future of the relationship between the two countries.
South Korean Foreign Minister Pak Jin has already returned home after completing a two-day visit to Japan. On July 19, he met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. He expressed condolences on behalf of his country’s government over the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
A day ago, Pak Jin met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. They discussed various bilateral issues.
Pak Jin’s interview with Kishida was very formal. However, in Pak Jin’s meeting with Hayashi, there was a discussion on ways to improve relations between the two countries by removing obstacles.
Hayashi attended the swearing-in ceremony of South Korea’s new president as a representative of the Japanese government. But since the process of forming the government was not completed, Hayashi did not have the opportunity to have a formal meeting with any high-level official of South Korea. Pak Jin’s visit to Japan created an opportunity for formal talks between the two countries.
One of the issues that have soured South Korea’s relationship with Japan in the past few years is the World War II-era ‘comfort women’ issue. Apart from this, there is also the aspect of the South Korean court’s judgment regarding the payment of compensation to some Japanese companies and the seizure of their assets for non-payment. The two countries have a dispute over the ownership of Takeshima and Dokdo islands. This dispute has not been resolved.
The two countries signed an agreement in 2015 on the issue of comfort women. Later, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in’s administration found the deal “against the country’s interest”. So they back out of the deal.
The South Korean government’s decision angered Japan. As a result, Japan now wants South Korea’s new administration to quickly return to the agreement.
The issue is very sensitive in South Korea’s internal politics. As a result, it is not possible for the new government of the country to take any decision quickly in this regard.
During the courtesy meeting with Kishida, Pak Jin expressed South Korea’s willingness to respect the 2015 agreement. Apart from this, there was no detailed discussion on this matter in the meeting held between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
However, the foreign ministers of the two countries have been discussing one issue for a long time. That is the order given by the South Korean court to pay compensation to some Japanese companies.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of South Korea issued several rulings. In the ruling, the court ordered several Japanese companies to pay compensation to victims of forced labor against the will of Koreans during the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. If the order is disobeyed, the court ordered to start the process of seizing the assets of these companies in South Korea.
The Japanese government sees the ruling as an expression of South Korea’s hostile attitude towards Japan.. As a result, Japan is calling the court’s verdict illegal. Japan has been urging the South Korean government to take concrete steps in this regard.
Like the comfort women issue, it is a hot topic in South Korean domestic politics.
However, the sources said at the same time, it will be difficult for South Korea to find a quick solution to the problem considering the internal situation. Fuel prices have been rising since the new government in South Korea. Complications have arisen in the import of foodgrains. As a result, the cost of living has suddenly increased. This reduces public support for the new government. In this situation, the new government of South Korea does not want to take any decision that is not popular.
This led to the assessment of the new South Korean foreign minister’s first visit to Japan that it did not bring the desired results for Tokyo.
But there is a positive side to the South Korean foreign minister’s visit to Japan. That’s it