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    Attempts Made by Japan and South Korea to Resolve Historical Differences and Pave the Way for a Positive Relationship

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    Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited South Korea, and expressed his sympathy for Koreans who suffered under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. Kishida’s visit is the first official bilateral visit by a Japanese leader to South Korea in over a decade. The two neighbours, both security allies of the United States, have had a tense relationship due to historic issues related to Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula. However, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has made improving relations with Japan a top priority for his administration.

    The Supreme Court of South Korea ordered Japanese firms to compensate forced labour victims in 2018, causing a trade spat between the two countries. Nevertheless, Yoon has sought to bury the hatchet by announcing a plan to compensate victims without direct involvement from Tokyo. Although many experts predicted that Japan would not offer a new apology, Kishida reaffirmed the “heartfelt apology” made by previous administrations in Tokyo.

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    The two leaders agreed to hold a trilateral meeting with the United States on the sidelines of the upcoming G7 summit. North Korea’s nuclear and missile development poses a grave threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and throughout the world. US allies need to stay ahead of Pyongyang through better coordination of sanctions enforcement, intelligence sharing, missile defense exercises, and anti-submarine drills. A Biden-Yoon-Kishida meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima later this month is expected to highlight progress on such trilateral cooperation.

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