Japan - Korea

Chronology from Jan 2013 to May 2013

: South Korean National Assembly passes a resolution (238 votes in favor, with one abstaining) denouncing Japan’s latest actions regarding Yasukuni Shrine as well as its perceptions of history.

: Japanese State Minister for Administrative Reforms and Public Servant Systems Reforms, Inada Tomomi visits Yasukuni Shrine, garnering protests from both Seoul and Beijing.

: Seoul calls in Ambassador Bessho to lodge an official protest against Prime Minister Abe’s remarks defending officials’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

: South Korea states that it plans to open a Japanese version of the website for Dokdo/Takeshima by Aug. 31, along with versions in six other foreign languages including English and Chinese, in a bid to step up its claims to sovereignty of the disputed territory.

: Kyodo News quotes Prime Minister Abe’s remarks during a parliamentary session, responding to criticism from South Korea and China on the Yasukuni Shrine visits by claiming that “My ministers will not yield to any kind of intimidation.”

: Shimane Prefecture in Japan decides to extend fishing rights in waters around Dokdo/Takeshima islets for another 10 years, despite the fact that no such fishing operations have taken place since June 1954.

: Japanese officials, including the Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro visit Yasukuni Shrine despite strong protests from both South Korea and China.

: South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se cancels scheduled trip to Japan in response to the recent Yasuskuni Shrine visits by Japanese cabinet members.

: South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries releases plans to establish a maritime police station on Ulleung Island in the Sea of Japan/East Sea (an island west of Dokdo/Takeshima) in order to strengthen security of the easternmost islets.

: South Korea’s Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae meets Ambassador Bessho to discuss further cooperation in dealing with continuing threats from North Korea.

: Trilateral South Korea, Japan, and China summit is postponed, with speculation that the territorial dispute between Japan and China is the cause.

: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide says that a prerequisite for restarting dialogues with North Korea will be for the North to move toward denuclearization.

: Prime Minister Abe and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen sign NATO-Japan Political Declaration for a Stronger Partnership.

: Japanese government states that it will erect a permanent missile defense system in Okinawa Prefecture. Mainichi Shimbun quotes Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori as saying that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces will locate the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles at two of its bases “as soon as possible within April.”

: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits South Korea, becoming the first in his capacity to visit the country.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that Japan has dispatched two Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers to the Sea of Japan/East Sea, while the USS Shiloh, a guided missile cruiser with advanced interceptor missile capability has departed from Yokosuka Naval Base.

: Yomiuri Shimbun article claims that the Machida City Board of Education in western Tokyo has reversed its initial decision to exclude a school with connections to North Korea from its safety alarm program for students. A city board official apologized, adding that “We regret that we reacted in response to the social circumstances (surrounding North Korea).”

: Japan announces its decision to extend the life of the sanctions levied on North Korea by two more years, which were set to expire on April 13, 2013.

: Hankook Ilbo reports the latest public opinion in which 62.4 percent of the South Koreans viewed the new Abe administration in a negative light, while the level of trust that the Japanese harbors toward South Koreans fell from 31.6 percent in 2010 to 13.4 percent.

: Kyodo News reports a statement by the Foreign Ministry that “We [South Korea] strongly protest against Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook that contains its unjust territorial claim over Dokdo, which is an integral part of our territory.” The publication in question continues to refer to Dokdo/Takeshima as Japan’s “inherent territory.”

: President Park appoints Lee Byung-kee as the new ambassador to Japan.

: Daegu chapter of the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers Union and the Hiroshima Prefecture branch of Japan’s Teacher’s Union announce that they have finished work on a joint historical textbook after seven years of collaborative work and discussions.

: Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology releases the screening results of textbooks to be adopted from April 2014 for high school sophomores, which devote more space to the Dokdo/Takeshima and Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Park Joon-yong, chief of the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, summons Kurai Takashi, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to lodge a protest against the textbook approval.

: A Buddhist temple in Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan wins bid to take control of a building that served as the headquarters for the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (‘Chongryon’). The building was initially seized due to unpaid debts.

: South Korea, Japan, and China meet for the first round of negotiations on the trilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), in Seoul.

: Yonhap News states that the US is pushing for more trilateral US-South Korea-Japan military exercises, much like that of the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise of 2012.

: United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) approves a framework to establish a “Commission of Inquiry” into alleged human-rights abuses in North Korea.

: North Korea threatens to strike US bases in Japan as a response to the use of B-52 bombers by the US that are capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles.

: Japan Times article states that the Tokyo government will levy further sanctions against North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank in retaliation for its continued development of nuclear weapons.

: US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen visits both South Korea and Japan in an effort to gain greater support for sanctions against North Korea.

: KCNA releases a statement from the Foreign Ministry denouncing Japan’s sanctions against North Korea and warning that Japan would also face consequences if it continues to ‘collude’ with the US.

: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) releases findings from its Military Balance 2013, which describes Asia’s overall defense spending as having overtaken that of Europe for the first time in 2012.

: Financial Times reports that Samsung Electronics has agreed to take an equity stake in Sharp, marking the first capital tie-up between major consumer electronics brands of South Korea and Japan.

: President Park and Prime Minister Abe agree to cooperate on implementing further sanctions against North Korea – the first telephone call since Park’s inauguration.

: In an interview with Monthly Chosun, Prime Minister Abe says that he aims to issue a new statement on Japan’s understanding of World War II in 2015. He also adds that the issue of the ‘comfort women’ should be “left in the hands of experts and historians.”

: South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson denounces remarks made by Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio concerning Japan’s claims to Dokdo/Takeshima.

: Park Geun-hye is sworn in as the 11th president of South Korea. She meets Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro amidst heightened tensions over the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute.

: Yonhap News reports that major civic groups have decided to boycott Japanese products in protest over Japan’s claims to Dokdo/Takeshima.

: Senior Japanese official attend ceremony to commemorate Takeshima Day in Shimane Prefecture. South Korean protestors gather outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and demand that Seoul lodge a formal complaint.

: Seoul government urges Japan to cancel the scheduled Takeshima Day celebrations in Shimane Prefecture.

: KCNA expresses anger at Japan’s latest bans against Chongryon, claiming that the organization is a “legal organization representing interests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Japan.”

: According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the latest Gallup Poll shows that the Japanese view China as the bigger military threat than North Korea, with 79 percent of respondents identifying China and 77 percent for North Korea. Moreover, 37 percent view South Korea as a military threat, which is an increase from 23 percent from the same survey in 2012.

: President-elect Park meets former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei to discuss issues regarding history, Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test, and ways to push South Korea-Japan bilateral relations forward.

: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and outgoing President Lee Myung-bak have a 20-minute telephone meeting after the latest nuclear test by Pyongyang, the first such discussion since Abe took office in December.

: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test in defiance of UN resolutions, with Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announcing that it used a “miniaturized” and lighter nuclear device than the previous two attempts.

: In response to North Korea’s nuclear test, Japan decides to levy new bans on senior officials of the General Association of Korean Residents (Chongryon).

: The Hankyoreh reacts to the Japanese government’s decision to build the Territorial and Sovereign Issues Planning and Coordination Office, which will serve as the central policy planning organ regarding Dokdo/Takeshima, the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and the Kuril Islands, saying it is “an indication that the Japanese central government will be directly claiming Dokdo as Japanese territory, which up until this point has been spearheaded by Shimane Prefecture.”

: Japan launches two spy satellites to collect information for its defense and intelligence agencies concerning North Korea’s military activities. The first such satellite was launched in 2003.

: In line with the unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2087 condemning North Korea’s rocket launch of Dec. 12, 2012, Japan freezes assets of six organizations and four individuals with alleged involvement in the rocket launch.

: Regional secretary generals of the ASEAN-Korea (Chung Hae-moon), ASEAN-Japan (Ohnishi Yoshikuni), and ASEAN-China Center (Ma Mingqiang) meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum in Laos. The meeting marks the first of its kind between the ASEAN center heads of the three nations. The focus is on advancing ASEAN + 3 cooperation.

: Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) announce its plans to provide Overseas Untied Loan Insurance for the joint Korea-Japan project to construct a diesel power plant in Jordan. The Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) is also financing the project with a $320 million loan and $107 million in guarantees.

: According to the Korea Times, newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Bessho Koro gave his first address titled “Future of Japan and Korea Relations” in a lecture series hosted by the Asia Society Korea Center in Seoul.

: ROK Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-Young meets Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kawai Chikao to improve relations and discuss North Korea’s rocket launch.

: Prime Minister Abe meets Hwang Woo Yea, a close aide to President-elect Park and the chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party.

: Delegation of senior lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party visits Japan in their capacity as members of the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union. The visit was arranged by the Korean Residents Union in Japan, in hopes of furthering Seoul-Tokyo bilateral relations.

: Before meeting Japanese Special Envoy and former Japanese Finance Minister Nukaga Fukushiro, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan describes relations with Tokyo as a “big challenge” for Seoul in 2013.

: South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye meets Special Envoy Nukaga and receives the letter he delivers from newly elected Prime Minster Abe Shinzo.

: South Korean court sides with China in the competing requests for extradition between Beijing and Tokyo over the custody of Liu Qiang, the Chinese man accused of arson of the Yasukuni Shrine as well as for hurling gasoline bombs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. Liu told South Korean authorities that his late grandmother was forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II.

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