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An outlook on ways to defrost the currently icy S. Korea-Japan relations Updated: 2022-06-30 17:06:39 KST

Even after multiple encounters between the leaders of South Korea and Japan at 2022 NATO, there was no much-anticipated bilateral summit to defrost the currently icy Seoul-Tokyo relations.
But experts say not all hope is lost.

"The fact that the South Korean leader himself expressed his will to improve relations is something that Japan can think of positively, and when the political situation allows, conditions for deeper discussions will be created."

One of the political situations, for instance, could be Japan's upper house election next month.
In fact, experts are convinced that the very first Yoon-Kishida summit is highly likely to take place afterward.
However, a two-track approach that isolates historical disputes and highlights common interests and solidarity based on economic security may be a more appropriate way to mend ties between the two countries.

"The Yoon administration and the Kishida government share similar diplomatic interests on China, North Korea issues and alliances, beefing up cooperation between South Korea, U.S. and Japan and participating in the I-PEF. More active involvement will broaden Seoul-Tokyo coordination."

Plus, security ties between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have never been tighter than they are now amid concerns that Pyeongyang is on the verge of resuming nuclear tests.
Another expert points out that trilateral cooperation on security driven by the U.S. will allow Seoul-Tokyo ties to improve.

"The South Korean government will become closer with the U.S., and during that process, South Korea and Japan will actively play along with Washington's East Asia policy, which will also allow Seoul and Tokyo to become closer."

Hurdle after hurdle lie ahead for South Korea-Japan relations, namely taking care of possible South Korean court rulings resulting in the liquidation of the Japanese firms' assets in the country over Japan's wartime forced labor.
But the hunt for diplomatic solutions is expected to continue, with the South Korean government planning to launch a joint public-private body to address the issue.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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