Japan - Korea

Chronology from Oct 2005 to Dec 2005

: Japan and North Korea hold bilateral negotiations and agree to resume normalization talks as early as late January.

: The Japan Times reports that abductees’ families from Thailand, Lebanon, South Korea, and Japan vow to seek joint efforts for the return of their relatives from North Korea.

: Korean Central News Agency says that Pyongyang plans to start developing light-water reactors for nuclear energy. Japan responds a day later that it would be “suicidal.”

: ROK FM Ban urges for “a correct perception of history and to implement it” in response to Aso’s remarks a day earlier.

: FM Aso says that Japan is prepared to deal with issues from the past and work toward improving relations with South Korea in a statement marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation Kitagawa Kazuo said that Japanese government has decided to permanently waive visa requirements for South Korean tourists.

: UN General Assembly adopts a resolution criticizing North Korea’s human rights issues, including the abduction of foreigners to North Korea. The resolution is passed by a vote of 88 to 21 with 61 abstentions. Japan cosponsored the resolution while South Korea abstained.

: South Korean President Roh and Chinese Premier Wen agree in bilateral talks on the sidelines of ASEAN that it is up to PM Koizumi to mend ties with the two countries.

: During the ASEAN Plus Three/East Asia Summit meetings in Kuala Lumpur, a separate “Plus Thee” summit among China, Japan, and South Korea does not take place, as China cancels the summit with Japan in reference to “the current atmosphere.”

: Samsung SDI files a suit against Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. for alleged violation of its plasma display panel patents.

: Japan names Saiga Fumiko, ambassador to Norway, as a special envoy on North Korea’s human rights.

: Mainichi Shimbun reports that ultranationalist sentiments gain popularity inside Japan as regional tensions rise. The newspaper cites Yamano Sharin’s comic “Hate Korea: a Comic,” which went through five printings and sold 320,000 copies since its release in September.

: PM Koizumi says he does not understand why Japanese people as well as South Korea and China criticize his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, while emphasizing the importance of relationships with Seoul and Beijing on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the LDP.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe says Japan supports a KEDO proposal to demand North Korea return money disbursed to finance a light-water reactor project.

: Japan, the U.S., South Korea, and the EU agree to end the $4.6 billion KEDO project intended to provide two light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea.

: Former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro warns the LDP of populism and urges LDP lawmakers not to visit Yasukuni Shrine.

: President Roh and Prime Minister Koizumi meet on the sidelines of APEC Summit for 20 minutes.

: FM Ban and China’s FM Li condemn PM Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine at their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.

: FM Ban and FM Aso meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

: Former vice president of the LDP says that there is a 50-50 possibility that PM Koizumi will visit North Korea before he leaves office next September.

: South Korean lawmakers urge Japanese counterparts to show a more sincere attitude over history issues at the 31st meeting of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians Union.

: Joongang Ilbo quotes Sankei Shimbun that an annual soccer match between Japanese and South Korean lawmakers held since 1998 has been canceled as South Korean lawmakers said they would not play against any Diet members who had visited Yasukuni Shrine.

: Kanzaki Takenori, the leader of New Komeito, calls on the foreign minister and chief Cabinet secretary as well as the prime minister to refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine in consideration of Japan’s ties with its Asian neighbors.

: Japan and North Korea end two-day bilateral negotiations, the first in 11 months, in Beijing. No agreement is reached, but both parties decide to continue talks to establish a framework for future discussions.

: Mainichi Shimbun reports that an opinion poll conducted after PM Koizumi’s Oct. 17 Yasukuni Shrine visit shows that the percentage of supporters was four points higher than opponents. Regarding a proposal to construct a non-religious national facility to enshrine Japan’s war dead, 66 percent were in support, while only 29 percent opposed.

: North Korea says it is ready to make a proposal that could help resolve the abduction issue.

: Japan Times reports that Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe has softened his stance on the possibility of economic sanctions against North Korea.

: Newly appointed Foreign Minister Aso and South Korean counterpart Ban hold telephone conversation and agree to mend strained bilateral relations.

: PM Koizumi names Abe Shinzo as chief Cabinet secretary and Aso Taro as foreign minister.

: Japan’s LDP announces constitutional revision bill.

: South Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban departs for Japan to meet FM Machimura for a three-day visit.

: A civil group, the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea, says it will broadcast a shortwave radio program called “Shiokaze” (sea breeze) to any Japanese in North Korea.

: Chosun Ilbo reports that members of Japan’s ruling coalition and the main opposition party are seeking ways to secure government funding to establish a secular war memorial in an effort to mend strained ties between Tokyo and its Asian neighbors.

: Bukgwandaecheopbi returns to Korea from Japan. The monument, set up to commemorate the victory over Japanese invaders in 1592, was stolen by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Russo-Japanese war.

: Japan’s Foreign Minister Machimura Nobutaka says he hopes President Roh visits Tokyo as scheduled.

: PM Koizumi makes fifth visit to Yasukuni Shine. South Korean presidential spokesman says Seoul will postpone the December Roh-Koizumi summit.

: Song Il-ho, vice director of North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, says that the DPRK welcomes PM Koizumi to Pyongyang to discuss the fate of Yokota Megumi’s remains.

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