Yoon voices ‘trust’ in Japanese counterpart, says alliance with US won’t change

Posted on : 2024-05-10 17:18 KST Modified on : 2024-05-10 17:18 KST
The president remarked on the state of Korea’s foreign relations during a press conference to mark two years since being sworn in
President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at a press conference to mark the end of his second year in office on May 9, 2024, at the presidential office in Seoul’s Yongsan District. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at a press conference to mark the end of his second year in office on May 9, 2024, at the presidential office in Seoul’s Yongsan District. (Yonhap)

Regarding relations with Japan, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has said that while “the various issues and historical disputes may act as roadblocks,” the two “need to set definite forward-looking goals, show patience when necessary, and keep going in the necessary direction.” 

In a press conference to mark two years in office, Yoon received four questions regarding foreign policy, all from foreign journalists. Responding to a Japanese reporter’s question on South Korea-Japan relations, the president said, “The people of South Korea and Japan have distinct differences in perspective when it comes to various issues and historical disputes.”

“I think both sides need to focus on how to create a better future for posterity,” Yoon added. 

“There have certainly been difficulties, but for the sake of our futures, I believe we need to reach compromises and agreements to secure our leadership on our shared agendas in the Indo-Pacific region and in global society, specifically regarding a joint response to North Korea and economic cooperation,” Yoon added. 

When questioned on whether he will demand anything from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in negotiations, Yoon responded, “Prime Minister Kishida and I have ample trust in each other. We share the same outlook when it comes to the development of relations between our countries, and we have a mutual understanding in this regard.” 

Yoon did not mention any requests or demands he plans to make of Kishida regarding the historical disputes between South Korea and Japan or give any indication that Kishida and Japan need to make more concerted efforts regarding such disputes. 

Yoon was also questioned about comments from Donald Trump, who is vying for the White House once more in the upcoming US presidential election, about a potential withdrawal of US troops from South Korea. Trump has commented on the need for Seoul to increase its financial contribution to defense burden-sharing, hinting that there is no need for the US to protect a nation as wealthy as South Korea. 

“As the president of a country, I’m cautious as I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to make predictions or speak hypothetically about the outcome of a presidential election of another country, even an ally,” Yoon responded.

“What’s for certain, however, is that the South Korea-US alliance receives strong support from both the American government and people, from both parties in the US Congress, and from the current administration,” Yoon said. 

“The robust alliance and partnership between the US and South Korea will remain unchanged,” Yoon added. 

Regarding support for Ukraine, Yoon called the war there an “illegal attack that is prohibited by international law.”

“We continue to support Ukraine under the principle that we will not send offensive, lethal weaponry to any country,” Yoon added. 

Regarding North Korea supplying Russia with weapons, Yoon responded, “North Korea is sponsoring an illegal invasion, a clear violation of the UN Security Council’s sanctions.

“The UN and the international community are carrying out a necessary response,” he added. 

Regarding Seoul’s relations with Moscow, Yoon said, “Regarding the war in Ukraine and North Korea supplying weapons to Russia, we have a clear difference in viewpoints from Russia, which makes for uncomfortable relations.” 

“We can still reach agreements and compromises where it’s possible, but we will take a stand when necessary while continuing to pursue a path of cordial relations with Russia,” Yoon added.

By Park Min-hee, senior staff writer

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories