Japan - Korea

Chronology from May 2015 to Aug 2015

: The 1,193rd weekly demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul is held. The demonstration includes a ceremony for Choi Hyun-yeol, who died after self-immolation on Aug. 12.

: Emperor Akihito gives a speech at a memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, voicing “deep remorse over the last war,” and adding that “I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated.”

: Three Japanese Cabinet ministers visit Yasukuni Shrine to pay their respects. In separate visits, 66 Japanese lawmakers also pay their respects. Prime Minister Abe sends a monetary offering without a physical visit.

: President Park gives a commemorative address on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation. She appeals to the Japanese government “to match with consistent and sincere actions its declaration that the view of history articulated by its previous cabinets will be upheld,” and in particular, “hope the Japanese government resolves the issue of “comfort women” victims of the Japanese Imperial Army in a speedy and proper way.”

: Prime Minister Abe releases a statement in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

: South Korean man sets himself on fire during a protest calling on Japan to apologize for its enslavement of “comfort women/sex slaves.”

: Former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio kneels before a memorial at Seodaemun Prison History Hall in Seoul and apologizes for Japan’s wartime aggression.

: Japan’s Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio meets North Korean counterpart Ri Su Yong on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Kuala Lumpur.

: The 16th ASEAN+3 Foreign Ministers Meeting is held in Kuala Lumpur.

: President Park meets Okada Katsuya, the head of Japan’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

: President Park’s sister, Park Geun-ryeong is criticized for saying that “(Japan) including the Japanese emperor already made apologies to South Korea four times and it is wrong to ask continually,” during an interview with a Japanese video-sharing website, Niconico.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the LDP has sent a written proposal to Prime Minister Abe, calling on him to “restore Japan’s honor and trust by eradicating misperceptions overseas about the so-called comfort women issue,” and to “make forthright counterarguments to groundless criticism of Japan on this issue.”

: The Korea Herald reports that a group of 524 intellectuals issued a joint statement urging the government in Tokyo to face up to its past wartime atrocities and uphold previous statements about Japan’s aggression and colonial rule.

: Two former “comfort women/sex slaves” file a defamation suit in a federal court in San Francisco against the Japanese government, the late Emperor Hirohito, former Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, and seven companies, including Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

: South Korean actor Bae Yong-joon gets married, prompting some 200 of his fans (many of whom flew from Japan) to line up outside the venue to catch a glimpse of the actor.

: Senior diplomats from Japan, South Korea, and the US gather in Tokyo to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

: During his nine-day visit to the US, Kim Moo-sung, chairperson of the ruling Saenuri Party tells US leaders that Prime Minister Abe must not backtrack from previous statements of apology. Kim also meets US House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who urges Abe to make a clearer statement on Japan’s involvement in the sexual enslavement of women.

: Yonhap News reports that the South Korean government has ruled out the possibility of forging a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), citing Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok as saying that “there are no discussions on GSOMIA or Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement nor any moves to do so.”

: Japanese Cabinet adopts its annual defense white paper, which claims Dokdo/Takeshima as part of Japan’s territorial sovereignty. South Korean government summons Kanasugi Kenji, minister and deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to protest.

: Eighth round of trilateral FTA negotiations among China, Japan, and South Korea takes place in Beijing, China.

: Chief of the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces Adm. Kawano Katsutoshi states that Japan’s role would be to provide “logistical support” in a contingency on the Korean Peninsula.

: South Korea returns one of two Korean Buddha statues to Japan,  stolen by South Korean thieves from separate shrines in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture in October 2012.

: Meeting between Japan and South Korea’s intelligence bureau chiefs occurs in Seoul, amidst speculations about a potential military information sharing agreement.

: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., appeals South Korean court ruling in June, stipulating the company must pay compensation to five former South Korean employees that were forced into labor during Japan’s colonial rule. The case will now go to the Supreme Court.

: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide says that while Koreans were forced to work at the sites listed on the World Heritage List, they were not “forced laborers.”

: Editorial in Asahi Shimbun calls for a new game plan in dealing with North Korea.

: At the 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, a decision is made to inscribe the 23 facilities put forth by Japan on the World Heritage List.

: Japanese Foreign Ministry criticizes North Korea for its delay in releasing its report on the reinvestigation into the Japanese abductees.

: Japan Foreign Press Center lists a good summary of recent editorials in Japan of the current state of Japan-South Korea bilateral relations.

: Fuji TV apologizes after heavy criticism for intentionally manipulating subtitles in a segment titled, “why Koreans hate the Japanese so much” in a program aired on June 5.

: Bunka Gakuen University in Tokyo signs a memorandum of understanding with the South Korean government commemorating a donation of the traditional garment worn by Princess Deokhye, the daughter of King Gojong (1852-1919) and the last princess of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

: Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

: South Korea’s Gwangju High Court upholds a ruling that orders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., to pay compensation to five South Korean plaintiffs on grounds of forced labor during Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula.

: Prime Minister Abe attends an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations in Tokyo, while President Park does the same at a separate event held by the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

: Japan-South Korea Foreign Ministers meeting is held in Tokyo, marking Yun Byung-se’s first visit to Japan.

: Third Japan-Korea Future Dialogue hosted by Genron NPO and EAI takes place in Tokyo, one day ahead of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties.

: The Asahi Shimbun releases findings of its joint survey with Dong-A Ilbo on Japan-South Korea bilateral relations, which shows about 86 percent of respondents in Japan expressing a pessimistic view, and roughly 90 percent with similar sentiments in South Korea.

: Report released by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) shows South Korea’s trade dependence on Japan as lowest on record, with Japan accounting for 7.6 percent of Korea’s total volume of imports and exports during the period of January to May.

: The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government had rejected a report drafted by North Korea during negotiations in the spring, on grounds that it did not have information regarding the 12 Japanese abductees in question.

: In an interview with the Washington Post, President Park Geun-hye says that “considerable progress” has been made with Japan on the “comfort women/sex slaves” issue.

: Ihara Junichi, director-general of the Japan Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, meets South Korean counterpart Lee Sang-deok for the eighth round of talks on “comfort women/sex slaves” in Tokyo.

: Former Japanese Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei share their thoughts at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, urging Prime Minister Abe to honor the spirit of the 1995 Murayama statement.

: Second round of talks to discuss South Korea’s concerns regarding Japan’s designation of sites on the World Heritage List is held in Seoul.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that a group of 281 scholars including Wada Haruki, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo and former executive director of the Asian Women’s Fund, issued a statement urging the Japanese government to resolve the “comfort women/sex slaves” issue and other historical matters causing friction between Japan and Korea.

: Kyoto district public prosecutor’s office indicts Ho Jong-do, the second son of the Chongryon chairman, and Kim Yong-jak, president of a food trading company in Tokyo affiliated with Chongryon, for smuggling in matsutake mushrooms into Japan from North Korea.

: Six-member Japanese delegation of the Japan-South Korea “Wise Man Group” visits Cheong Wa Dae, and meets President Park Geun-hye. The group was launched in March and held its first session in Tokyo, with the aim of exploring ways to improve Seoul-Tokyo ties.

: Japan and South Korea hold their first bilateral defense talks in more than four years, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

: Genron NPO and the East Asia Institute (EAI) release the results of their third Japan-South Korea joint public opinion poll.

: Japan, South Korea, and the US hold trilateral talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear program in Seoul.

: Japan and South Korea hold trade talks on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Boracay, Philippines. The talks mark the first of its kind since April 2013.

: Choi Jong-moon, South Korea’s ambassador for cultural and UNESCO affairs, meets Shimmi Jun, Japan’s director-general for cultural affairs, in Tokyo to relay Korea’s concerns regarding Tokyo’s efforts to designate its sites on the World Heritage List.

: Sixth bilateral meeting on economic and financial cooperation takes place in Tokyo, marking a resumption of such talks since the last meeting in Korea in November 2012.

: Japanese government files a complaint against South Korea at the World Trade Organization (WTO), challenging Seoul’s import bans and testing restrictions on Japanese food after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

: Third China-Japan-ROK Counterterrorism Consultation is held in Beijing.

: South Korea announces it is conducting a two-day military drill near the waters of Dokdo/Takeshima, involving the South Korean Navy and the Coast Guard.

: Japan-Korea Economic Association hosts a meeting in Seoul, bringing some 300 business leaders together to discuss ways to boost bilateral economic cooperation.

: Seventh round of negotiations on a trilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea is held in Seoul.

: Japanese police arrest three men for illegally importing matsutake mushrooms from North Korea. One is the son of the leader of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).

: South Korean National Assembly passes a resolution condemning Japan’s efforts to designate its “Sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution” on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List.

: North Korea announces the successful firing of a ballistic missile from a submarine. The test follows remarks by Japanese Defense Minister Nakatani Gen at the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2) meeting in New York on April 27 that Japan would retaliate against the North if it launches a missile attack on the US.

: The Japan Times reports that Yamatani Eriko, Japan’s minister in charge of the abduction issue, is seeking “specific actions” from the global community at the UN symposium on human rights in levying pressure against North Korea to make progress on the issue of the Japanese abductees.

: Statement signed by nearly 200 scholars expresses a “shared concern for the way that the history of Japan and East Asia is studied and commemorated.” The statement is a result of an open forum held at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting in Chicago in March.

: Japanese government announces that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has recommended Japan’s “Sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution” as a candidate to be listed on the World Heritage List.

: Meeting on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank annual meeting, the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (AFMGM + 3) is held in Baku, Azerbaijan, bringing China, Japan, and South Korea together to discuss issues of regional financial cooperation.

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