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Yoon’s delegation, Japanese PM agree to work on improving relations

April 26, 2022 - 15:21 By Jo He-rim
Rep. Chung Jin-suk (center left) of the conservative People Power Party leading President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation to Japan, delivers a personal letter from Yoon to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (center right) during their meeting held at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and agreed to make joint efforts to enhance ties between the two countries, the chief delegate said Tuesday.

Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the conservative People Power Party, who is leading the seven-member delegation to Japan, said the two sides had exchanged opinions on improving the bilateral relationship.

“For the development of the future-oriented relationship of South Korea and Japan, which stand at a new starting line, we have agreed that we need to make efforts for joint benefits,” Rep. Chung said after the meeting. Chung is also the deputy speaker of the National Assembly here.

The meeting was held at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo for 25 minutes starting at 10:40 a.m.

The Korean delegation also delivered a letter on Yoon’s behalf to Kishida.

The content of the letter has not been made available to the public, but Chung said it would likely carry a message about inheriting the spirit of the Kim Dae-jung-Obuchi Joint Declaration to build future-oriented relations while sharing a joint understanding of the past.

The declaration was made in October 1998 between then-Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung to reconfirm friendly relations between Japan and South Korea, and to discuss the future for a new partnership.

As one of the ways to enhance the relationship, the Korean delegates shared hopes to resume human exchange between the two countries that have been suspended due to various factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the delegation said.

In addition, it requested the Japanese government remove South Korea from the list of countries it designated to mandate COVID-19 quarantine at a designated facility. If the Japanese Foreign Ministry accepts the request, Korean nationals who are inoculated with a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine would be exempted from the mandatory three-day quarantine.

According to local reports, the Japanese prime minister also highlighted the importance of “strategic cooperation” between Korea and Japan, and with the United States as well, in addressing geopolitical tensions including the war in Ukraine, China’s military expansion and the series of missile launches by North Korea.

Yoon’s delegation departed to Japan for a five-day trip on Sunday to coordinate policies and discuss pending current affairs with the neighboring country before Korea’s government changes hands on May 10.

The trip is the incoming government’s first move aimed at improving the bilateral relations that have sunk to their lowest level since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965.

All seven members of the delegation, including Rep. Kim Seok-ki, who is the vice chair of the Korea-Japan parliamentary diplomacy forum, and Yun Duk-min, former chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, were present at the meeting with Kishida.

Following their meeting with Kishida, the delegation also held a luncheon with Japanese business chiefs. On Tuesday afternoon they were to meet Yoshiro Mori, Japan’s prime minister in 2000-2001.

On Monday, the policy consultation delegation held a breakfast meeting with the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union and met with Toshihiro Nikai, former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party. The team also met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda and Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi.

By Jo He-rim (