At a rare summit where the US allies agreed to work together on North Korea and implement a deal meant to mend a rift resulting from their troubled histories, the leaders of South Korea and Japan struck a chord of unanimity.
Yoon Suk Yeol, the president of South Korea, told Fumio Kishida that working with the US was crucial to addressing security challenges brought on by countries like Pyongyang. The Japanese prime minister expressed sorrow for the suffering brought on by his nation’s colonial rule over the peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and said he sees the negotiations with Seoul moving forward quickly.
Yoon said on Sunday after the first official summit between the leaders of the two nations in about a decade that took place in Seoul. “It is significant that shuttle diplomacy between the leaders of Korea and Japan is now in full swing,” he added. Regular visits had been discontinued because of political tensions that had gotten worse in recent years over a dispute over compensating Koreans who had been made to work in Japanese mines against their will.
“I myself feel pain in my heart that many people suffered pain and sadness in the very tough environment,” Kishida said at a joint news conference with Yoon in comments that will be closely scrutinized by the South Korean public. Polls show many in the country are against a deal Yoon unveiled in March to pay compensation and have been looking for a greater show of contrition from Tokyo.