Japan - Korea
Chronology from Jan 2021 to May 2021
: According to a Gallup Korea poll, President Moon’s approval rating dropped to 29%, the lowest since his inauguration. Respondents cited real estate policies, the handling of the pandemic, economy and people’s livelihood as reasons for the drop.
: Seoul Central District Court rejects a compensation claim against the Japanese government by 20 individuals including survivors of wartime sex slavery, citing sovereign immunity.
: During a roundtable meeting with media, US special climate envoy John Kerry responds to questions about US involvement in Japan’s release of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant. John Kerry says, “We don’t think it is appropriate for the US to jump into the process that’s already underway and where there are very clear rules and expectations.”
: President Biden and Prime Minister Suga hold an in-person summit meeting.
: Judge Kim Yang-ho issues ruling in Seoul Central District Court authorizing collection of the legal fees from the Japanese government for 12 plaintiffs that sued the Japanese government for compensation for wartime suffering as comfort women.
: South Korean presidential spokesperson Kang Min-seok says that “at a Blue House meeting the president ordered his aides to actively examine ways to bring Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from [the Fukushima] nuclear plant to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.”
: During a reception held after a credentials presenting ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in tells Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Aiboshi Koichi that “Korea has extremely serious concerns over Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from the nuclear plant into the sea because our geographic location is the closest and the two countries share the sea.”
: In response to Japan’s decision to release the contaminated Fukushima plant water, South Korean DP Rep. Shin Dong-kun says “It is very disappointing that the United States, our [traditional] ally, sided with Japan.” Acting DP leader Rep. Do Jong-hwan says, “We denounce the Japanese government for making the decision without offering transparent information and a verification process.”
: During a press conference after a meeting at a Seoul government complex, head of Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination Koo Yun-cheol says “The Korean government expresses strong regret over the Japanese government’s decision to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, and plans to take all necessary measures keeping the safety of our people as the top priority.”
: South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and US Acting Ambassador to Seoul Robert Rapson formally sign the 11th Special Measures Agreement six-year defense cost-sharing arrangement at the Seoul government complex.
: During a press briefing in Washington, DC White House spokesperson Jen Psaki says “We have a clear objective as it relates to North Korea, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula” and “We are prepared to consider some form of diplomacy, if it’s going to lead us down the path toward denuclearization.”
: A report on North Korean Sports Ministry website DPRK Korea states that the North Korean Olympic Committee “decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”
: South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong meets with Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Fujian Province to discuss bilateral relations.
: Blue House National Security Office Director Suh Hoon, Japan National Security Secretariat Secretary General Shigeru Kitamura, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan hold trilateral talks at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
: UN Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions expert panel releases report indicating that “cyberactors linked to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to conduct operations against financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses in 2020 to generate revenue to support its weapons of mass destruction.”
: Japan’s Ministry of Education authorizes 30 social studies textbooks for the 2022 school year which assert that the Takeshima/Dokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are a part of Japanese territory. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam responds by saying, “we cannot help but deplore and strongly condemn the approval of the textbooks carrying ungrounded claims to Dokdo, which is clearly our indigenous territory historically, geographically and by international law.”
: North Korea launches two ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan. Prime Minister Suga calls an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and says that Japan will closely cooperate with the US, South Korea, and other countries.
: US Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin attend a US-ROK Foreign and Defense Ministerial (“2+2”) in Seoul. The meeting is hosted by the ROK’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Defense Suh Wook.
: US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III attend the US–Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting in Tokyo. The meeting is hosted by Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu and Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi.
: Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff issue a statement saying that after a review of the pandemic and diplomatic efforts, the March US-South Korean joint military drills will be scaled down.
: During a ceremony for March 1 Independence Day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in says, “The [Olympic] Games scheduled for this year may serve as an opportunity for dialogue between South Korea and Japan, South and North Korea, North Korea and Japan, and North Korea and the United States.”
: In a statement, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy says that South Korean Minister of Trade Yoo Myung-hee will drop her bid to be World Trade Organization director-general.
: South Korea’s Bank of Korea announces that South Korea’s real gross domestic product fell by 1% in 2020, marking the lowest growth rate in 22 years.
: Asahi Shimbun survey shows that the approval rating for Suga’s cabinet went down to 33% from 65% when Suga took office in September 2020.
: Joseph Biden is inaugurated as president of the United States.
: At a New Year’s news conference South Korean President Moon Jae-in says, “The inauguration of the Biden administration would provide a turning point to newly start US-North Korea dialogue, South-North dialogue, to inherit the achievements that were made under the Trump administration.”
: Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide delivers his policy speech at the opening of the Lower House parliamentary session.
: Kang Chang-il, as South Korea’s new ambassador in Japan, signals South Korea’s willingness to mend ties in an interview with Japanese media, saying “President Moon Jae-in has a firm intention to rebuild South Korea-Japan relations and intensify cooperation with Japan.”
: Suga said that he would seek dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without precondition” by taking advantage of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July.
: South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said that South Korea will review membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Previously President Moon had, during his New Years’ Message, said South Korea would positively review joining the CPTPP.
: South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu talks on the phone. Motegi requests that Seoul “take appropriate measures immediately to correct the violation of international law.”
: In a phone call, Japanese Foreign Vice Minister Akiba Takeo speaks to South Korean ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo about the South Korean court ruling issued against the Japanese government and says, “The ruling is extremely regrettable and the Japanese government absolutely cannot accept it.”
: KCNA reports that during a speech to the Worker’s Party Congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expresses his determination to “place the state defense capabilities on a much higher level, and put forth goals for realizing it.”
: Seoul Central District Court issues ruling ordering the Japanese government to compensate 12 plaintiffs who are victims of wartime sex slavery.
: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convenes the Worker’s Party Congress in Pyongyang.