Japan - Korea

Chronology from May 2017 to Aug 2017

: President Moon and Prime Minister Abe agree to increase pressure on North Korea to an “extreme” level and vow to push for new and stronger sanctions by the UN Security Council. Top security officials of South Korea, the United States, and Japan hold three-way talks to discuss cooperation against North Korea’s threats.

: President Moon names Lee Su-hoon (63), an international relations professor from Kyungnam University, as ambassador to Japan. Lee served as the head of the foreign relations and security division on Moon’s transition team.

: Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon pays respect to a late victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery and instructs the government to fulfill dying wish of Ha Sang-sook, a comfort woman who passed away recently, which is to be buried at a state cemetery.

: Japanese government returns a complaint filed by 11 South Korean comfort women seeking compensation for forced sex with Japanese soldiers during World War II. A South Korean victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, Ha Sang-sook, dies at the age of 89, reducing the number of surviving victims to 36.

: At the ninth annual Culture Ministers Talks held in Kyoto, South Korea, China, and Japan vow to cooperate to0 ensure Seoul’s successful hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and to increase cultural exchanges among the three countries.

: At 19th Trilateral Environmental Ministers Meeting between South Korea, China, and Japan in Suwon, South Korea, ministers agree to step up cooperation on air pollution.

: At the 72nd Anniversary of the National Liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule ceremony, President Moon urges other Northeast Asian countries, including Japan, to participate in institutionalizing regional security and economic cooperation.

: Prime Minister Abe sends offering to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, but he and all his Cabinet members refrain from visiting the shrine. Senior Vice Foreign Minister Masahisa Sato and two groups of Japanese lawmakers visit the shrine. South Korean Foreign Ministry issues a statement of “deep concern” over the Shrine visit by the Japanese politicians.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga expresses concern over the operations of buses in Seoul carrying statues that symbolize comfort women.

: A series of events are held for international comfort women day in South Korea, including the display of 500 statues of a girl symbolizing comfort women at Cheongye Stream Square in central Seoul. Five public buses pass the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul carrying a girl’s statue and the Korean folk song, Arirang, is played when the buses pass the embassy.

: Naver, South Korea’s major Internet portal operator, adds updated images of the “Dokdo islets in the East Sea” on its online map service a day before the 72nd Anniversary of the National Liberation day.

: Foreign Minister Kang and Foreign Minister Kono vow to step up joint efforts to rein in North Korea and improve national ties at their bilateral talks in Manila on the sidelines of ASEAN meetings.

: Gwangju District Court of South Korea rules in favor of victims of Japanese forced labor during World War II, ordering the Japanese firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay compensation to an elderly surviving victim and a family member of a deceased victim.

: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a commentary “strongly protesting” Japan’s renewed claim to Dokdo islets in its annual defense white paper and calls for “immediate withdrawal.” South Korea summons a minister at Japan’s Embassy in Seoul, Mizushima Koichi, and a defense official at the embassy to lodge a protest against the claim.

: During a telephone conversation, President Moon and Prime Minister Abe agree to put maximum pressure on North Korea until it chooses the path of dialogue.

: Foreign Ministers from South Korea, Japan, China, and Southeast Asian nations share concerns on North Korea’s provocations and agree to bolster financial cooperation at the annual ASEAN+3 meeting in Manila. South Korea, Japan, and the US foreign ministers meet to discuss North Korea issue on the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings. Foreign Minister Kang and Secretary of State Tillerson “strongly back” Japan’s efforts to address the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

: ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) issues a statement expressing “grave concern” over North Korea’s escalation of regional tensions and urging Pyongyang to “fully” comply with UNSC resolutions.

: Yonhap reports that South Korean Foreign Ministry will promote use of “East Sea” at the 11th meeting of UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.

: South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries states that fishery goods exports to Japan increased 9.1 percent on-year to $82.5 million.

: UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopts new sanctions resolution (Resolution 2371) on North Korea.

: Top security officials of South Korea, US, and Japan hold a video conference and agree to maximize pressure on North Korea to stop its missile and nuclear provocations.

: Japan’s Defense Ministry releases white paper that refers to Takeshima islets as its sovereign territory, the 13th straight year Japan has made that claim in its defense paper.

: In response to South Korea’s launching of a task force to review the comfort women agreement, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga states that South Korea should note that the agreement is “final and irreversible” and should implement it faithfully.

: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares that South Korea has officially launched a task force to review comfort women agreement.

: Foreign Minister Kang has separate emergency phone calls with US Secretary of State Tillerson and Foreign Minister Kishida to discuss responses to North Korea’s missile launch on July 28.

: Gender Equality and Family Minister Chung says the ministry has launched an inspection team to review and assess the “Reconciliation and Healing Foundation,”

: Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine Yasumasa calls on South Korea to “faithfully” implement the 2015 comfort women deal at a forum held in Seoul.

: South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson says that a task force to review the comfort women deal is soon to be launched and the ministry is “in the middle of preparations for personnel composition of the task force.”

: Head of “Reconciliation and Healing Foundation” Kim Tae-hyeon resigns.

: A joint annual opinion poll by Genron NPO in Japan and the East Asia Institute of South Korea shows that 53.8 percent of Japanese respondents and 75 percent of South Korean respondents think that the 2015 comfort women deal did not resolve the dispute.

: South Korea publishes administration’s five-year management plan.

: South Korea announces that it has approved a plan by the State Affairs Planning Advisory to designate a national memorial day in 2018 to remember the victims of sex crimes committed by Japanese soldiers during the World War II.

: Foreign Minister Kishida lodges a protest over South Korea’s support for efforts for UNESCO listing of documents related to comfort women. South Korean Foreign Ministry states that, “The government’s consistent stance is to continue efforts to make the comfort women issue a lesson from history and pass down to future generations the truth of the issue.”

: During her visit to a shelter for former sex slaves, South Korean Gender Equality and Family Minister Chung says that the government plans to set up a museum for Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery in Seoul by 2020.

: President Donald Trump, President Moon, and Prime Minister Abe issue a joint statement condemning North Korea’s testfiring of a ballistic missile on July 4 and agreeing to draw tougher UNSC sanctions on North Korea.

: President Moon and Prime Minister Abe hold the first summit meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

: Blue House announces that President Moon and Prime Minister Abe will hold their first summit on July 7 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

: South Korea’s Gender Equality and Family Minister-nominee Chung Hyun-back says that she will examine the “Reconciliation and Healing Foundation” closely, resume the ministry’s support to register the comfort women related materials to the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, and restart publishing a white paper on comfort women.

: Busan Metropolitan Assembly passes ordinance that entrusts municipalities with the protection and care of statues symbolizing the “comfort women.”

: Comfort women statue unveiled in the city of Brookhaven, despite Japanese efforts to block it.

: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson condemns Japanese Consul General Shinozuka’s comment in a press conference.

: A local newspaper reports that Japanese consul general in Atlanta Shinozuka Takashi stated in an interview with the newspaper that there is “no evidence” that the military sexually enslaved women during WWII; rather, the women were “paid prostitutes.”

: Foreign Minister Kang and Foreign Minister Kishida hold phone talks. Mainichi reports that the ministers were at odds over the 2015 comfort women deal.

: In a newspaper interview with The Washington Post, President Moon urges Japanese government to “take legal responsibility for its actions” and “make an official apology” to former comfort women.

: South Korea calls in the minister for political affairs at the Japanese embassy, Kitagawa Katsuro, to voice strong protest against Japan’s “repeated” and “unjustified” territorial claims to Dokdo islets in the new education manuals.

: South Korean government condemns Japanese government’s recent order to its foreign missions to report maps with marking of “Dokdo” or “East Sea.”

: South Korean Navy announces a two-day “Dokdo defense drill,” an effort to defend Dokdo from the possible aggression by “outside forces.”

: Seoul Central District Court concludes that South Korean sex slavery victims still have individual rights to sue the Japanese government for compensation despite the 2015 agreement.

: President Moon tells Nikai Toshihiro, Prime Minister Abe’s special envoy, that the people of South Korea do not accept the 2015 comfort women agreement and “more time is needed” to resolve the issue.

: Japanese government calls on its citizens abroad to contact Japanese diplomatic missions if they find a map labeled as the “East Sea,” the name favored by South Korea, instead of the “Sea of Japan.”

: South Korea, Japan, and China hold Second Trilateral High-Level Dialogue on the Artic in Tokyo, adopting a joint statement agreeing to enhance cooperation on Arctic research.

: South Korean and Japanese parliamentarian leaders meet and call for the two countries closer cooperation against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

: Three victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery come forward in support of Foreign Minister-nominee Kang.

: Japanese Defense Minister Inada Tomomi says her government regards comfort women issue with South Korea as fully resolved.

: Foreign Minister-nominee Kang visits a house sheltering Japan’s wartime sexual slavery victims and remarks that “victims” should be at center of resolving “comfort women” issue.

: Following the missile launch by North Korea on May 29, President Moon and Prime Minister Abe hold telephone talk. They share the view that provocations by North Korea are “totally unacceptable” and agree to maintain close cooperation on North Korea issue. Moon expresses appreciation for the leading role that Japan played in issuing a strong communique on the issues regarding North Korea at the recent G7 Summit.

: Japanese media, including Kyodo News, The Japan Times, and Mainichi, reports that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Prime Minister Abe that he supports the 2015 comfort women agreement during their meeting in Italy on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. Secretary general’s office rejects Japanese Foreign Ministry’s claim.

: South Korean Foreign Minister-nominee Kang Kyung-hwa, expresses willingness to meet the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery on the day she returns to South Korea from New York.

: A comfort women statue rejected by the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta finds a new home in Brookhaven after a vote by the city council of Brookhaven.

: South Korea dismisses Japanese government’s protest of maritime research near Dokdo/Takeshima islets.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a complaint against a South Korean ocean research vessel’s intrusion into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islets “without permission.”

: South Korean Foreign Ministry says it is reviewing a UN Committee against Torture’s recommendation to modify the 2015 comfort women deal.

: Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Foreign Minister Kishida hold telephone talk. They exchange information on North Korea’s ballistic missile launch, agree to maintain close cooperation between two countries and the US.

: UN Committee against Torture calls on Japan and South Korea to revise the 2015 comfort women accord to “ensure that the surviving victims of sexual slavery during World War II are provided with redress, including the right to compensation and rehabilitation and the right to truth, reparation and assurances of non-repetitions.”

: President Moon and Prime Minister Abe hold telephone talks. Abe congratulates Moon on his election victory and they agree on developing a future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship and holding a summit meeting as soon as possible.

: Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells reporters, “The [comfort women] agreement has been highly praised by the international community and it is extremely important that both Japan and South Korea implement it with responsibility,” and “The Japanese government will take various opportunities to tenaciously urge the steady implementation of the agreement.”

: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo  and Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio issue statements congratulating South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s election victory and urge a future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship in a broad range of fields as each other’s most important neighbors that share strategic interests.

: Finance ministers and central bank governors of South Korea, Japan, and China meet in Yokohama to coordinate policies and strengthen cooperation to fight trade protectionism. The top officials also attend the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting scheduled on the same day.

: South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family modifies the report on Japan’s wartime sexual slavery distributed online and offline after receiving complaints from some contributors that the positive description of the 2015 comfort women agreement does not reflect their view and the decision to publish the report was not discussed with them in advance.

: Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine Yasumasa urges South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to remove “comfort woman” statues. Yun notes the need for all parties to respect the spirit of the agreement and for the South Korean government to gain the understanding of the civic group and others who set up the statues.

: South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family states that the ministry will distribute the 216-page report on Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of Korean women to government agencies and post it online in the coming week.

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