The Japan Times
Yun Duk-min, front-runner to be S. Korea’s next Japan envoy, optimistic on restoring ties
Yun Duk-min, likely to be the next South Korean ambassador to Japan under the new Yoon administration, said Monday that trust-building efforts by the countries’ leaders could help resolve issues that have eroded ties to their weakest state in decades.
Yun, a former head of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy and known for his knowledge of Japan, said bilateral relations should not deteriorate any further under new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last week.
“An environment can be created for resolving difficult issues” by facilitating exchanges between the two countries’ people along with attempts to build relations of trust, Yun said in an online speech during a seminar.
Since joining Yoon’s presidential campaign, Yun has served as an adviser on diplomatic affairs. In late April, he visited Japan as part of a South Korean delegation and held talks with Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Yun, who obtained a doctoral degree at Japan’s Keio University and is proficient in Japanese, is also an expert on diplomatic and security affairs, including North Korea.
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have soured due to issues mainly related to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, such as wartime labor and “comfort women,” who were forced or coerced into Japan’s wartime brothel system under various circumstances, including abduction, deception and poverty.
The two countries’ top leaders have not held an in-person, sit-down meeting since December 2019 due to the bilateral issues and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ties between the two neighbors are becoming increasingly important given increasing threats by North Korea, which has conducted a series of missile tests this year, and tensions between China and Taiwan, viewed by Beijing as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Yoon said last week that he hopes to meet with Kishida, who took the helm in October last year.
Japan maintains that wartime issues have been resolved and that South Korea should follow through on agreements aimed at resolving disputes, including a 1965 pact signed with the treaty normalizing their diplomatic ties and a 2015 deal to settle the comfort women issue.