Japan - Korea

Chronology from May 2012 to Aug 2012

: Pyongyang and Tokyo meet at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, marking the first bilateral meeting since August 2008.

: Japan’s Parliament adopts resolutions “strongly condemning” South Korea’s recent actions regarding the disputed territory of Dokdo/Takeshima and calling the successful landing by Chinese activists on Diaoyu/Senkaku “extremely regrettable.”

: Yonhap reports that the ROK military is looking to go ahead with its schedule to conduct regular military drills in waters near Dokdo/Takeshima in early September.

: Tokyo sends Seoul a “note verbale” about jointly referring the territorial dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima to the ICJ. South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan dismisses the proposal, claiming that it is “not worth consideration.” Seoul returns the note on Aug. 23.

: South Korean Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification adopts resolution pressing Japan to withdraw its territorial claims over Dokdo/Takeshima.

: Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko sends a letter to President Lee via the embassy in Seoul, describing Lee’s visit to Dokdo/Takeshima and the remarks about needing an apology from Japan’s Emperor if he were to visit the South as regrettable. Noda also urges the territorial dispute be resolved at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

: KCNA criticizes Japan for its plans to raise the “abduction issue” at the bilateral meeting scheduled for the end of the month.

: Two Japanese Cabinet ministers – National Public Safety Commission Chairman Matsubara Jin and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Hata Yuichiro – visit the Yasukuni Shrine on the 67th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

: President Lee urges Japanese Emperor Akihito to apologize to Koreans that lost their life fighting for independence from the Japanese during the colonial era, if the Emperor is to visit South Korea.

: President Lee Myung-bak visits the disputed territory of Dokdo/Takeshima, sparking Japan to recall its ambassador from Seoul. This marks the first time that a Korean president has visited the islands.

: Japanese Red Cross Society meets North Korean Red Cross in Beijing to discuss repatriation of the remains of those Japanese that died during and at around the time of World War II, as well as allowing visits to their grave sites by bereaved family members. This is the first such meeting since August 2002.

: Japanese Cabinet endorses its 2012 defense white paper. Seoul immediately calls in Kurai Takashi, Japan’s deputy chief of mission in Seoul to protest Tokyo’s reiteration of its claims to Dokdo/Takeshima.

: KCNA criticizes Matsubara Jin, a Japanese state minister in charge of the “abduction issue,” accusing him of manipulating past abductions of Japanese nationals by the North to “win popularity,” branding such actions as a “politically motivated fraud.”

: US State Department official tells Yonhap that Japan’s trafficking of Korean women for sex during World War II is an unassailable “fact.” The official was responding to South Korean reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the use of “enforced sex slaves” and not just “comfort women.”

: A US-based civic group, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE), holds a ceremony at the Capitol in Washington DC, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark resolution on “comfort women.” The resolution was first introduced by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA), and co-sponsored by 167 lawmakers.

: South Korea’s Seoul National University Hospital signs a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Nagoya University Hospital to strengthen cooperation and develop joint programs.

: Korean Foreign Ministry official tells Yonhap that Seoul is considering changing the English term, “so-called comfort women” in international documents to “sex slave.”

: According to an article in The Korea Times, the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) is politicizing the failed attempt to forge a Korea-Japan defense pact, calling for the dismissal of Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik for mishandling the controversial accord.

: The US, South Korea, and Japan agree to continue close consultations in dealing with common security threats including deterring provocations by North Korea. The decision was made on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

: The Association of Forcibly Conscripted Korean Women (AFCKW), a Gwangju-based civic group announces that its 16th round of negotiations with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) to compensate Koreans exploited as forced laborers during Japanese colonial rule has ended without success.

: Kim Tae-hyo, South Korean senior presidential secretary for national security strategy, resigns over the controversy surrounding the government’s attempt to push the military pact with Tokyo.

: Yonhap reports that due to the general public backlash against the GSOMIA, the Korean government is moving toward scrapping negotiations regarding the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) that had been put on hold.

: An acerbic editorial in the The Hankyoreh claims that the postponing of the bilateral military pact has proven that the Lee administration is “brainless” … “with poor judgment and weak ability to predict circumstances.”

: According to a public opinion poll conducted by Korea’s Naeil Shinmun regarding the latest “fiasco” regarding the bilateral military pact with Japan, 63.3 percent of the Korean population did not foresee the pact being forged without prior resolution of historical issues such as the territorial spat over Dokdo/Takeshima and the issue of the “comfort women.”

: North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun accuses the Lee administration of being “a clan of traitors” aiming to “realize the wild ambition to invade the North, backed by Japan,” for its attempt to push forward with the military accord with Japan.

:  Hankook Ilbo reports that Korean beer exports to Japan have increased almost 40-fold within the past three years, while Korean beer imports from Japan have increased over two-fold within the same period.

: US State Department spokesperson tells Yonhap that if signed, the military accord between South Korea and Japan will be “useful, but it [the US] maintains a largely cautious stance on the sensitive bilateral issue.”

: The signing of the GSOMIA falls through as the Korean media reports on the backlash regarding the surreptitious manner in which the pact was rushed through within the Korean Cabinet. The Korean ruling Saenuri Party requests the government to postpone the signing less than an hour before the scheduled ceremony.

: According to the Chosun Ilbo, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin during the “2+2” meeting in mid-June to rush the South Korea-Japan military accord, but that Seoul denies the US made the demand.

: Speaking at a press conference a day after the announcement by Seoul of the bilateral military pact, Foreign Minister Gemba confirms that Seoul and Tokyo are “making coordination towards early signing [of the pact].”

: Mainichi reports that a Japanese official in charge of collecting information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation apparently committed suicide following media reports of an intelligence leak regarding North Korean acquisition of missile launchers from China.

: The South Korean government announces that it will sign a military pact with Japan. The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) provides the legal framework for the two countries to exchange and protect classified information.

: US, South Korea, and Japan conduct a joint naval exercise in waters south of the Korean Peninsula.

: Mainichi reports that journalists of Kyodo News and two Japanese broadcasters visited two burial sites near Pyongyang, which allegedly contain the remains of Japanese soldiers, military officials, and civilians from World War II.

: Fielding questions concerning reports that North Korea’s ballistic missile launch vehicles were imported from China, Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro states that “this is pertaining to intelligence” and that it is inappropriate for him to make any comments.

: At the 2nd US-ROK Foreign and Defense Ministers’ (2+2) Meeting held in Washington, the ministers affirm the importance of trilateral security collaboration with Japan, and commit to expand the scope of that cooperation to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, freedom of navigation, and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

: Yomiuri Shimbun quotes Korean President Lee Mung-bak’s remarks urging Japan to slash its trade surplus with South Korea before resuming negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement.

: Yonhap covers the meeting between Korea’s Ruling Saenuri (New Frontier) Party Chairman Hwang Yoo-yea and Japanese Ambassador Muto Masatoshi. The main focus of the talks was economic relations including the bilateral free trade agreement.

: US, South Korea, and Japan agree to strengthen cooperation in deterring North Korean aggression at a meeting of senior defense ministers at the 11th Asia Security Summit Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore.

: Quoting Japan’s Defense Ministry, Asahi Shimbun claims that Japan is considering deploying Aegis destroyers near the West Sea to deal with the long-range missile threat from North Korea.

: JoongAng Daily reports growing pressure on South Korea’s major companies to contribute funds to the foundation established to support conscripts. This follows POSCO’s decision to donate 10 billion won by 2014 to the state program to support Koreans who were conscripted to work in Japanese enterprises during World War II.

: According to JoongAng Daily, Tokyo announced that the issue of conscripted laborers and compensation has been resolved. Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura states that the issue was completely resolved in the 1965 agreement between Korea and Japan.

: South Korean Supreme Court rules in favor of formerly conscripted Korean workers seeking reparations for forced work without pay for Japanese companies during World War II. The decision directly contradicts the stance of the Japanese Supreme Court.

: A bureau chief-level meeting is held in Seoul to discuss plans by the US, South Korea, and Japan to press a reluctant China to “turn up the heat” on an increasingly provocative North Korea, Asahi Shimbun reports. The meeting was attended by Sugiyama Shinsuke, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Glyn Davies, the US special envoy for North Korean policy, and, Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy.

: According to Yonhap, South Korea is working on a plan to forge a military cooperation pact with China. South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok stresses the need for a mutual logistical support treaty given the history of joint maritime exercises for humanitarian search-and-rescue operations.

: Japan successfully launches its first foreign-made commercial satellite, marking its entry into the launch business. The South Korean satellite, the KOMPSAT-3, is a multipurpose observation satellite developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

: South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin cancels trip to Japan two days after Tokyo is notified that a visit by Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of the Communist Party Central Military Commission, would also be postponed.

: The 44th annual gathering of Korea-Japan business leaders kicks off in Osaka. The meeting is attended by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu, Korea International Trade Association (KITA) chairman Han Duck-soo, and Mitsubishi Corporation chairman Sasaki Mikio.

: The Fifth China, South Korea, and Japan trilateral summit is held in Beijing. The Joint Declaration on the Enhancement of Trilateral Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership focuses on launching negotiations on a three-way free trade pact.

: The Sankei reports that the Japanese Embassy in Seoul lodged a protest with the Korean Foreign Ministry in response to the Korean government providing 500 million won toward building the museum dedicated to the “comfort women.”

: The Hankyoreh announces the opening of “The War and Women’s Human Rights Museum” in Seoul, with funds raised by the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, which launched a committee for the museum’s construction in 2004. Some 200,000 people contributed to the fund, raising roughly two billion won ($1.8 million).

: Asahi Shimbun reports that China, South Korea, Japan and 10 Southeast Asian countries have agreed to enlarge and strengthen their emergency liquidity program amidst growing volatility from high oil prices and the eurozone crisis.

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