President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a summit in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. During their 55-minute summit that started at 11:20 this morning, the two leaders spoke in depth about how to work together to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as how to advance Korea-Japan relations.
President Moon briefed Prime Minister Abe in detail on the outcome of the inter-Korean summit in Pyeongyang. He highlighted the need to simultaneously push for dialogue between North Korea and Japan and improve their relations as part of the process of achieving complete denuclearization on the Peninsula and initiating a new era of peace and prosperity.
President Moon said that to date on three occasions he has recommended to Chairman Kim Jong Un that he find suitable measures for talks between North Korea and Japan, including the resolution of the abduction of Japanese citizens, and hence improve relations. President Moon continued that Chairman Kim had told him that he was willing to engage in dialogue with Japan and seek measures to improve relations between the two countries at an appropriate time.
In his reply, Prime Minister Abe said that he would strive to address the abduction issue, hold North Korea-Japan talks and improve bilateral relations. Saying that he would continue to pursue direct talks with Chairman Kim to this end, the Japanese Prime Minister requested support from the South Korean Government.
Prime Minister Abe explained the Japanese Government’s stance on such issues as the comfort women and the Korean forced laborers conscripted during the Japanese occupation of Korea. In response, President Moon said he would neither nullify nor demand renegotiation of the comfort women agreement signed between the two countries in late 2015. The President, however, indicated that the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation set up as part of the agreement was destined to wither as it could not function properly due to opposition from the public and surviving elderly victims. The President stressed the need to tie up the loose ends wisely, adding background regarding the strong demands within the country to dissolve the foundation.
President Moon said that circumstantial evidence implicating the previous Korean Administration in efforts to intervene in trials connected to forced labor has become an issue. He went on to say that regarding the ongoing forced labor trials, it would be necessary to respect the decision of the judiciary in compliance with the spirit of the separation of legislative, executive and judicial branches.