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S. Korea and Japan vow to strengthen ties with US to combat N. Korea

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, and Yoon Suk-yeol, the president-elect of South Korea, announced on Friday that they had decided to strengthen three-way ties with the US in response to North Korea’s expanding military threat.

The news: After a phone discussion with Yoon, Kishida told reporters the two agreed to keep in regular contact over North Korea and agreed it would be excellent to meet as soon as possible.

  • North Korea recently conducted two stealth launches of what would be its largest ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system, opening the way for a resumption of long-range testing, according to US and South Korean sources.
  • In dealing with North Korea, Kishida said that almost all diplomatic options are available, including sanctions, and that Japan will keep in close contact with the US and South Korea on any response.
  • Yoon, who won the presidential election on Wednesday, said he hoped for more trilateral collaboration with the US in dealing with North Korea, according to a spokesperson.
  • Relations between the two neighbours have been strained over issues relating to Japan’s colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, particularly forced labour victims and the mobilisation of wartime brothels.

What are they saying: Given the status of the world, Kishida believes that strong bilateral ties are necessary and must be strengthened.

  • Yoon reminded Kishida that it was critical to handle bilateral pending issues in a “reasonable, mutually beneficial” manner, noting that the two countries cooperate in many areas, including regional security and the economy.
  • Yoon also expressed condolences to the victims and families of the 11th anniversary of the earthquake that rocked northeastern Japan in 2011.
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