Leaders of Japan and South Korea to meet next week
TOKYO, Japan—The leaders of Japan and South Korea will meet in Europe next week in what the United States hopes will be a step toward repairing relations between its two Asian allies.
President Barack Obama will host the meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, where all three will be attending a Nuclear Security Summit on Monday and Tuesday.
It will be the first meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye since they both took office more than a year ago.
The three-way meeting is expected to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and North Korea’s nuclear program, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement.
They apparently won’t discuss the contentious issue of “comfort women,” Japan’s wartime system in which historians say tens of thousands of Korean and other women were forced to provide sex in military brothels.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry statement added, “On a side note, the (South Korean) government is in consultation with the Japanese side on holding a director-general-level meeting on the issue of sexual slavery victims drafted for Japan’s Imperial Armed Forces.”
Friction over the comfort woman issue and Japan’s brutal colonization of Korea in the first half of the 20th century has prevented Abe and Park from meeting earlier.
Most Japanese leaders have met their South Korean counterparts within the first year in office, so the failure of Abe and Park to do so has been a worry for the United States.
Both are important allies in the face of China’s military rise and the North Korean nuclear threat. U.S. officials have urged the two neighboring countries to improve ties and promote healing of historical grievances.
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