In first talks with Japanese counterpart, Seoul’s new top diplomat reaffirms disagreements on Dokdo, forced labor

Posted on : 2024-02-23 17:45 KST Modified on : 2024-02-23 17:45 KST
The two diplomats met on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers conference in Brazil
Taisuke Mibae, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Japan in South Korea, is summoned to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2024, in response to a local government in Japan hosting an event celebrating “Takeshima Day” — as the Korean islet of Dokdo is referred to by Japan. (Yonhap)
Taisuke Mibae, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Japan in South Korea, is summoned to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Feb. 22, 2024, in response to a local government in Japan hosting an event celebrating “Takeshima Day” — as the Korean islet of Dokdo is referred to by Japan. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s foreign minister held his first talks with his Japanese counterpart since being sworn in last month, but the two sides merely reaffirmed their disagreements regarding issues such as Dokdo and financial compensation for victims of forced mobilization.

Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul of South Korea met Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday, a day before the gathering of G20 foreign ministers. The two ministers discussed issues such as North Korea, a potential trilateral summit with China, and other bilateral issues. 

Earlier, on Tuesday, Japan’s Shimane Prefecture hosted an event for “Takeshima Day,” a day created to proclaim the Korean islet of Dokdo as Japanese territory. Cho protested the attendance of a high-level government official at the event.   

On Tuesday, Seoul Central District Court awarded the bereaved family of a Korean victim of forced labor with 60 million won (US$44,830), which was withdrawn from money that Hitachi Zosen Corp. had deposited as a form of collateral. Kamikawa strongly protested this decision to Cho, claiming it brought “unfair losses to the company.” In its statement about the summit, the South Korean Foreign Ministry simply said that “the two sides reaffirmed their respective positions regarding the withdrawal of the deposit from Hitachi Zosen Corporation.” The statement essentially avoided adopting a strong stance on the issue. 

Regarding the issue of Dokdo, the Japanese Foreign Ministry simply stated that Kamikawa “relayed our prior stance, which has remained consistent.” In an address before Japan’s national legislature on Jan. 30, Kamikawa declared Dokdo as “indigenous Japanese territory, based on both historical facts and international law.” 

Shojiro Hiranuma, the parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications, attended Shimane Prefecture’s “Takeshima Day” event. Japan has sent high-level officials to attend Takeshima Day for 12 consecutive years, since the launch of the Shinzo Abe Cabinet in 2013.

On the same day, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned Taisuke Mibae, the deputy chief of the mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to protest the “Takeshima Day” event. 

In a statement attributed to its spokesperson, the ministry called on Japan to “immediately cease its claims that Dokdo is indigenous Japanese territory” and to “face history with a humble attitude.” The statement also demanded that Japan immediately stop holding its Takeshima Day event.  

After the G20 meeting, Cho is scheduled to travel to the US, where he is expected to hold talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Feb. 28. 

By Shin Hyeong-cheol, staff reporter

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