Korea, Japan foreign ministers meet

Anti-South Korean activists outside the state guesthouse where the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan met in Tokyo yesterday.
Anti-South Korean activists outside the state guesthouse where the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan met in Tokyo yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se met his Japanese counterpart yesterday on his first visit to Tokyo since taking office, as the two countries mark 50 years of diplomatic relations despite current strains.

Mr Yun held talks with Mr Fumio Kishida at a state guesthouse to discuss their bilateral ties and North Korea, among other topics, Tokyo's Foreign Ministry said.

While details of their meeting have yet to be given, television footage showed the two shaking hands over the table at the opening session.

Mr Yun will today attend a ceremony at the South Korean Embassy to celebrate half a century since relations between Tokyo and Seoul were normalised.

Mr Yun is also expected to pay a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today, according to media reports. Mr Yun and Mr Kishida held talks in March in Seoul, but Mr Yun had not been to Japan since being appointed to the role in 2013.

Ties have been severely strained by rows over history and territory, and Mr Abe and South Korean President Park Geun Hye have not held a one-to-one summit since they came to power. She has said there can be no meeting until Japan makes amends for its wartime system of sex slavery, which saw up to 200,000 mostly South Korean "comfort women" forced into servitude for Japan's imperial military.

According to the Nikkei newspaper, Japan, China and South Korea are separately considering holding a trilateral summit this autumn. Tokyo and Seoul regard the meeting as an opportunity for Mr Abe and Ms Park to hold their first summit, and it was expected to be discussed at yesterday's meeting, the paper said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'Korea, Japan foreign ministers meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe