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Abe, Moon Hold First Meeting, Agree to Revive Shuttle Diplomacy; Still Fuzzy on that Comfort Women Thing

The Yomiuri Shimbun Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae In in Hamburg on Friday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae In in Hamburg on Friday. The Yomiuri Shimbun

HAMBURG — Keita Ikeda and Kentaro Nakajima report: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae In agreed on Friday that their countries will revive shuttle diplomacy, in which both leaders regularly visit each other’s nations, and affirmed they will promote future-oriented cooperation.

During an about 35-minute bilateral talk — the first between Abe and Moon — in Hamburg, Abe called on Moon to steadily implement a Japan-South Korea deal that was reached in December 2015 to settle the comfort women issue. However, the two leaders failed to narrow the gap on the issue, with Moon explaining to Abe that public opinion within South Korea is critical of the deal.

Abe told Moon that the comfort women deal “is an indispensable base for building the future-oriented Japan-South Korea relationship.”

In response, Moon said South Korea and Japan should make joint efforts on the issue and resolve it wisely, while acknowledging the reality that a majority of South Korean people cannot “emotionally” accept the deal, according to South Korea’s Blue House. “This issue must not become an obstacle to the development of other relations between the two countries,” he said.

Moon insisted on renegotiating the 2015 deal during campaigning for the presidential election in May, but he is believed to have made no direct reference to it during Friday’s talks with Abe.

“It’s true that we have difficult problems to handle since we are neighbors, but it’s in our common interests to manage them so they won’t negatively impact the overall Japan-South Korea relationship,” Abe told Moon.

Abe and Moon aim to improve the bilateral relationship, using shuttle diplomacy as a foothold, by dealing with issues related to historical perception separately from security and economic issues at a time when the two countries are facing a threat from North Korea.

Japan and South Korea had been conducting shuttle diplomacy from 2004, but the reciprocal visits were suspended after former South Korean President Lee Myung Bak visited the Takeshima islands in Shimane Prefecture in 2012 … (read more)

via The Japan News

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