PM ex­pects ‘cer­tain out­comes’ with Abe

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Park Ji-won jw­[email protected]­re­

TOKYO — Prime Min­is­ter Lee Nak-yon said Wed­nes­day that his meet­ing with Japanese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to­day should pro­duce some de­vel­op­ments re­gard­ing the diplo­matic and trade stand­off be­tween South Korea and Ja­pan.

“There will be cer­tain out­comes at to­mor­row’s meet­ing with Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe,” Lee said dur­ing an un­sched­uled press brief­ing in Tokyo, the same day.

Ear­lier, dur­ing talks with Japanese stu­dents at Keio Univer­sity, he stressed that Seoul would con­tinue to re­spect the 1965 treaty with Ja­pan that nor­mal­ized diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. While not­ing that there have been dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the agree­ment re­cently, he said, “When­ever the two have dif­fer­ent views, we have re­solved our prob­lems through di­a­logue.” When asked about the move in Korea to boy­cott Japanese goods, which has neg­a­tively in­flu­enced the lo­cal econ­omy, Lee said the Korean gov­ern­ment was try­ing to cre­ate a dis­tance be­tween po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic issues.

Lee’s re­marks came a day be­fore his 11:00 a.m. meet­ing with Abe at which he will de­liver a hand­writ­ten let­ter from Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in. This is an ap­par­ent move to cre­ate an at­mos­phere con­ducive to a sum­mit be­tween the two lead­ers and im­prove ties be­tween their coun­tries.

The let­ter is ex­pected to re­it­er­ate Moon’s stance of re­solv­ing the is­sue through di­a­logue, and clar­ify that his ad­min­is­tra­tion does not dis­pute the 1965 treaty. How­ever, the Korean gov­ern­ment has said it must re­spect the coun­try’s top court rul­ings or­der­ing Japanese firms to com­pen­sate Kore­ans forced to work for them dur­ing World War II, and that in­di­vid­u­als can seek such rec­om­pense based on in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized le­gal prece­dent.

Mean­while, Lee briefly met Abe on the side­lines of a ban­quet held Tues­day evening to cel­e­brate the coro­na­tion of Japanese Em­peror Naruhito, but no mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion took place.

He also par­tic­i­pated in a cer­e­mo­nial din­ner hosted by the Japanese prime min­is­ter and his wife at a ho­tel in Tokyo, Wed­nes­day.

Lee had pre­vi­ously down­played his meet­ing with Abe, say­ing it was un­likely to pro­duce any con­crete progress.

Stress­ing that his goal was to set the stage to boost dis­cus­sion, he said “I can ex­plain why Seoul can­not ac­cept Tokyo’s claims amid our lin­ger­ing dif­fer­ences on di­verse issues, how­ever, it is un­likely we will reach any agree­ment.”

“I pre­sume that the meet­ing will help the two coun­tries have se­ri­ous di­a­logue in the fu­ture,” he added.

Mean­while, Lee also met with sev­eral Japanese politi­cians to ex­plain the Moon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s stance be­fore the meet­ing with Abe.

Fukushiro Nuk­aga, who heads the Ja­pan-Korea Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans’ Union and is a mem­ber of the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party of Ja­pan (LDP), told re­porters that he and Lee dis­cussed var­i­ous mea­sures con­cern­ing the Korean Supreme Court’s rul­ing on the forced la­bor is­sue.

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