Japan - Korea

Chronology from Sep 2012 to Dec 2012

: The voting to designate Japan’s prime minister takes place at both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors; Abe Shinzo becomes the 96th prime minister (the 63rd person to assume the post).

: According to Yonhap News, President-elect Park Geun-hye has turned down a proposed visit by former Finance Minister Nukaga Fukushiro, the special envoy designated by incoming Prime Minister Abe, due to a scheduling conflict.

: Yonhap News reports that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has called for more satellites and rockets to be launched following the country’s successful effort in early December.

: Asahi Shimbun includes an article citing plans by incoming Prime Minister Abe to send a special envoy to South Korea to improve relations and the possible cancellation of the central government support for a national “Takeshima Day.”
Dec. 21, 2012: South Korea releases its defense white paper, reiterating its claims to Dokdo/Takeshima. Japan protests, with Seoul sending a rebuttal letter stating that “Dokdo is an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically, and under international law.”

: Japan’s incoming Prime Minister Abe Shinzo congratulates Park Geun-hye on her recent win in the South Korean presidential elections.

: Park Geun-hye wins South Korean presidential elections.

: The LDP wins by a landslide in Japan’s national parliamentary elections.

: North Korea launches a satellite into outer space using a three-stage rocket.

: The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) releases a statement that confirms initial indications suggesting that North Korea’s rocket “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”

: Kyodo reports that the Japanese Coast Guard rescued four men aboard a North Korean boat drifting in the Sea of Japan/East Sea.

: According to Chosun Ilbo, three Korean mobile service providers – SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus – have submitted an application to the Dokdo Management Office to set up a base station on the islets, paving the way for 4th generation mobile coverage on the island by February 2013. KT has already established Wi-Fi connection network on the islets.

: KCNA releases a statement from the Korean Committee of Space Technology, claiming that preparations for the scheduled rocket launch were “at a final phase,” but adding that “they, however, found technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket carrying the satellite and decided to extend the satellite launch period up to Dec. 29.”

: KCNA states that roundtable talks were held in Tokyo on Nov. 27 to mark the 40th anniversary of the realization of the North Korea-Japan sport exchange.

: The Japan Times reports that three MSDF destroyers armed with Aegis missile defense system left the base in Sasebo on Dec. 6 in preparation for North Korea’s rocket launch.

: Japan announces that it “has informed North Korea of a postponement of bilateral talks planned for later this week out of consideration for current circumstances.”

: North Korea announces plans to launch a satellite between Dec. 10 and 22.

: Washington Post reports on recent findings of the Japanese government survey on Japanese public sentiment toward South Korea and China. The article suggests that the significant decline in affinity for both Seoul and Beijing by the Japanese may represent a shift back toward nationalism of an earlier era.

: A boat carrying five dead men, all believed to be from North Korea, is found beached on Niigata Prefecture’s Sado Island.

: Finance ministers from South Korea and Japan meet to discuss economic and financial ties, releasing a joint statement that notes the importance of resuming negotiations on the free trade agreement.

: Seoul and Tokyo hold their 11th high-level economic consultation in Seoul, headed by Korea’s Deputy Trade Minister Lee Shi-hyung and Japan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tsuruoka Koji.

: According to Kyodo, the Japanese government decided to create Japanese names for the rock formations on Takeshima and register them with the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

: Dong-A Ilbo details the campaign pledges of Abe Shinzo, pointing out his pledge to elevate the significance of ‘Takeshima Day’ designated for Feb. 22.

: According to Japan Times, Shimane Prefecture has called on the public to provide historical documents that would reinforce Japan’s claims to Takeshima.

: Trade ministers from South Korea, China, and Japan meet in Cambodia and announce the launch of free trade negotiations, ten years after the joint civic study in 2003.

: Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Sugiyama meets Song Il Ho, North Korean ambassador for talks to normalize relations with Japan.

: In an interview with Korea’s JoongAng Daily, Shin Bong-kil, secretary general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS), states that “Korea, China, and Japan are in basic agreement that bilateral conflicts over historical and territorial issues should not affect trilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia.”

: Asahi Shimbun covers the visit of 40 or so members of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Staff College to South Korea. The article quotes the director of the MSDF Staff College’s education department, stating, “We want to promote exchanges at all levels even though political relations are bedeviled by some issues.”

: Kyodo announces that 33 of Japan’s 47 local assemblies have voted in favor of Tokyo pressing its claims to the disputed territory of Dokdo/Takeshima.

: Japan’s new Ambassador to Korea Bessho Koro arrives in Seoul.

: South Korea’s lawmakers from the National Defense Committee visit Dokdo, marking the third such visit since 2005.

: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu calls on Korea’s parliamentary leaders to cancel their scheduled trip to Takeshima.

: President of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Abe Shinzo visits Yasukuni Shrine, his first such visit since winning the party election in September.

: South Korea’s chief negotiator to the Six-Party Talks Lim Sung-nam, Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Sugiyama Shinsuke and US Special Envoy for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies meet in Tokyo for talks on North Korea.

: A Financial Times article, “Tokyo and Seoul: Relationship on the Rocks,” cites US Asia experts on the negative impact of Korea-Japan relations for the US ‘pivot’ strategy.

: The Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) involving South Korea, China, and Japan holds its inaugural forum in Seoul, bringing together South Korea’s Kim Sung-hwan, Vice President of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs Lu Shumin, and former Japanese Science and Technology Minister Nakagawa Masaharu.

: Chosun Ilbo hints at a potential thaw in bilateral relations, citing news of resuming regular meetings between finance ministers that had been suspended due to the dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima. The fifth such meeting was scheduled for August but postponed indefinitely following President Lee’s visit to the disputed islands.

: Korea Herald states that a Tokyo District Court ordered the Japanese government to disclose parts of the classified 1965 Korea-Japan normalization treaty dealing with Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, ruling in favor of the 11 Korean and Japanese civic activists representing the so-called “comfort women.” Japan has refused to disclose the proceedings of the treaty claiming that such disclosure may hinder relations between South and North Korea.

: Finance Minister Pak Chae-wan meets Japanese counterpart Jojima Koriki on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meeting in Tokyo.

: Yonhap announces that South Korea and Japan agreed to let the expanded portion of the bilateral currency swap deal expire at the end of the month. The expiration will mean that the bilateral currency swap deal will decrease to $13 billion from $70 billion.

: Seoul announces that it has received approval from the US to develop ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800 km, more than double the prior limit.

: The annual South Korean-Japan Cooperation Committee Meeting is held in Seoul. In a speech read by FM Kim Sung-hwan, President Lee calls for “a mature partnership between the two countries by having the courage and wisdom to look squarely at history and sincere action backing it up.” In a speech read by former Prime Minister Aso Taro, Prime Minister Noda urges “a cool-headed approach.”

: Chosun Ilbo publishes the findings of its joint survey with Mainichi Shimbun on Korean and Japanese public perceptions toward the bilateral relationship.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that Matsubara Jin (who lost his job in an Oct. 1 cabinet reshuffle) attempted to open his own lines of communication with North Korea, in order to influence bilateral relations. An anonymous Japanese government official is quoted saying that “fame-hungry politicians have poked their noses into Japan-North Korea relations, while the Foreign Ministry has become wary of holding dialogues on the abduction issue.”

: Sankei Shimbun reports that South Korea refused to allow Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships to dock in Busan during a joint naval exercise involving the US and Australia. South Korea’s Defense Ministry denies the reports, claiming that the decision not to dock at the port was based on prior mutual agreement.
Sept. 28, 2012: Yonhap News reports that Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing will begin their domestic procedures starting October toward the launch of the trilateral free trade talks.
Sept. 28, 2012: FM Kim Sung-hwan addresses the 67th session of the UN General Assembly and includes references to wartime sexual violence as an infringement of human rights and the need to face up to history.

: The Japan Times states that FM Gemba has called for the greater use of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts – an apparent reference to the territorial dispute with South Korea over Dokdo/Takeshima.

: FM Kim Sung-hwan meets FM Gemba on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, reaffirming efforts to work together on pressing bilateral issues including North Korea.

: The Wall Street Journal carries an interview with Japanese Prime Minister Noda where he reiterates Japan’s official position regarding compensation to those Korean victims of sexual slavery (referred to as “comfort women”), saying “the matter is closed.”

: South Korea’s Shin Dong-A Magazine in its October edition publishes the findings of a poll regarding perceptions toward the South Korea-Japan bilateral relationship.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko engaged in a brief discussion at the APEC meeting. This marks the first contact between the two since Lee’s visit to Dokdo in August.

: Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) survey reported by Yonhap reveals that more than one in 10 South Korean companies engaged in trade with Japanese companies believe they are suffering damage due to the South Korea-Japan diplomatic spat.

: According to Yonhap, Seoul is seeking an increased budget for 2013 in dealing with its claims to sovereignty over the disputed territory of Dokdo/Takeshima. The amount requested totals 4.2 billion won (roughly $3.7 million), representing an increase of 81 percent over the 2012 budget. The article also states that Japan has similarly increased its requested budget for the same purpose, to $7.5 million for 2013.

: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the APEC meeting, urging for cooler heads from both South Korea and Japan in working out their ongoing territorial dispute.

: Japanese Foreign Minister (FM) Gemba Koichiro meets South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vladivostok.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that the four-member Japanese delegation to North Korea has wrapped up its 10-day trip to the country. The group visited four burial sites in preparation for possible retrieval of remains to Japan and future visits to such sites by the bereaved families and relatives.

: Chosun Ilbo quotes a South Korean diplomatic source in claiming that Japan informed the US it was against an increase in the range and payload of South Korean missiles.

: Asahi Shimbun quotes a Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) source that claims Seoul sent notice that its officers would not be taking part in military exchange programs. Plans to invite officers from the South Korean Air Force’s Southern Combat Command to Japan to meet their Japanese counterparts Sept. 3-6 are canceled.

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