SEOUL — South Korea and Japan ought to attempt to enhance bilateral relations earlier than the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for subsequent summer time, the chief of South Korea’s ruling get together stated Wednesday.
Lee Nak-yon, who turned head the ruling Democratic Celebration in August and is a main candidate to succeed President Moon Jae-in as South Korea’s chief, spoke on the Overseas Correspondents’ Membership in Seoul.
He touched on the dispute sparked by the South Korean Supreme Courtroom’s determination ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to former Korean wartime laborers.
“If we assist diplomats to seek out frequent floor throughout discussions, I consider we are going to see optimistic outcomes,” Lee stated.
Tokyo holds that the reparation matter was settled when the 2 nations normalized diplomatic relations in 1965. The nation has vehemently contested the ruling, main it to stop exports of key chipmaking supplies to South Korea final 12 months.
Lee, who as soon as labored as a Tokyo correspondent for a South Korean newspaper within the Nineties, is one of many few figures well-versed in Japanese affairs inside the Democratic Celebration.
When Lee was the prime minister from 2017 till January, he oversaw Seoul’s response to the wartime labor subject, however he was unable to piece collectively an answer.
This summer time, a South Korean district court docket has permitted the seizure of belongings belonging to Nippon Metal in as a step towards liquidating them into money. The Japanese steelmaker immediately appealed the decision.
“We’ve got made a number of makes an attempt to hunt frequent floor whereas acknowledging ideas each side search to guard,” stated Lee, with out mentioning specifics. “There have been behind-the-scenes efforts to push a proposal that’s extra palatable to the opposite aspect.”
A South Korean president solely serves a single five-year time period, and Moon’s tenure expires in 2022. Because the ruling get together chief, Lee is seen as in a robust place to succeed Moon within the Blue Home. The principle conservative opposition get together, at present rebranded because the Individuals Energy Celebration, is just not anticipated to subject a viable candidate.
In December final 12 months, then-Nationwide Meeting Speaker Moon Hee-sang submitted a invoice to the legislature that may have resolved the diplomatic deadlock over wartime labor compensation by establishing a fund utilizing donations from Japanese and South Korean firms and people. The invoice was scrapped in May resulting from legislative inaction.
“It isn’t straightforward for the legislature and the central authorities to simply accept” Moon’s proposal, Lee acknowledged Wednesday. Nevertheless, conservative opposition lawmakers have since launched an similar invoice.
Lee stated the Tokyo Olympics presents a chance for Japan and North Korea to interact in dialogue. He talked about the prediction that the North will possible put ahead a brand new international coverage agenda when the ruling Employees’ Celebration convenes for its subsequent congress in January.
“North Korea used the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018 for dialogue,” Lee stated. “It’s potential that Chairman Kim Jong Un sees the Tokyo Olympics as such a chance.”