Japan - Korea

Chronology from Sep 2020 to Dec 2020

: Court in the South Korean city Daejeon completes process of serving notice to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries regarding asset seizure for compensation of forced labor victims.

: Governor’s Association of Korea issues a statement requesting that the Japanese government “immediately halt discussions to release the radioactive water from Fukushima.”

: South Korea declines Japanese government’s request to resume flights between Haneda in Tokyo and Gimpo in Seoul due to potential complications with quarantine efforts.

: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs official tells reporters that South Korea “has the right to request information to determine whether Japan’s plans [to discharge radioactive water] are safe.”

: Berlin’s Mitte District council adopts resolution to permanently install the “comfort woman” statue. During a press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato expresses deep regret over Mitte Council’s decision to permanently install the “comfort woman” statue in Berlin.

: Leadership from South Korean and Japanese businesses discuss Japan-South Korea relations during the 52nd Korea-Japan Business Conference. During his keynote address, chairman of the Korea Peace Foundation Hong Seok-hyun says “we need to begin the process of historical reconciliation starting now, with the target of 2025.”

: President Moon Jae-in nominates Kang Chang-il as new ambassador to Japan.

: During a press conference at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, an embassy official discusses the discharge radioactive water and tells reporters that Tokyo “will come up with ways to adequately control and monitor the discharge and discuss them with neighboring countries.”

: UN passes a resolution accusing the North Korean regime of human rights violations by consensus during meeting at UN headquarters. South Korea declines to sponsor the resolution.

: ROK Representative Kim Jin-pyo says he was told in a meeting with a high-ranking Japanese official in Tokyo a week earlier that “if Chairman Kim has intentions to attend, a formal invitation could be made” to invite Kim Jong-un to the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

: International Hydrographic Organization Assembly adopts a proposal to label all seas with unique numerical codes instead of names.

: During a virtual summit for leaders of ASEAN nations, plus China, South Korea, and Japan, President Moon begins keynote speech by saying, “Honorable chair, excellences. In particular, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Prime Minister Suga of Japan.”

: US President-elect Joe Biden talks with Suga and has first phone call with Moon.

: ROK representative and head of Korea-Japan Parliamentarian’s Union Kim Jin-pyo and a seven-member delegation meet Japanese counterparts in Tokyo. At Narita International Airport, Representative Kim tells reporters “It is time for the leaders of the countries to meet to discuss the pending issues between Korea and Japan and make a political decision.”

: Park tells reporters in Tokyo “I conveyed to Prime Minister Suga President Moon Jae-in’s earnest greetings and intent to normalize Korea-Japan relations, and we had good discussions on the North Korea issue.”

: Environmental civic groups campaign against Japanese seafood near the Japanese embassy in Seoul due to Japan’s plan to discharge radioactive water into the ocean.

: South Korean Director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Park Jie-won meets with Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Nikai Toshihiro and other senior officials in Tokyo to talk about compensation of forced labor victims and export restrictions.

: South Korean Director of the Blue House National Security Office Suh Hoon meets Japanese counterpart Shigeru Kitamura and US counterpart Robert O’Brien by video. Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok says “they shared their assessments on the latest affairs concerning the Korean Peninsula and discussed ways to engage North Korea to resume talks.”

: During a meeting with the House of Councilors Budget Committee, Suga responds to question regarding six-party talks during the Tokyo Summer Olympics and says “in diplomatic terms, it will be a very important opportunity.”

: Japan’s Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Shigeki Takizaki attends in-person meetings with South Korean counterpart Kim Jung-han and South Korean nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon in Seoul.

: The group Busan Women’s Action to Resolve the Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Issue holds a demonstration in front of Japanese Consulate in Busan to protest Japanese government request to remove comfort women statue in Berlin.

: In an address to the Japanese Diet, Suga refers to South Korea as “a very important neighboring country,” and says that the Japanese government will “strongly urge an appropriate response in line with Japan’s consistent position” on the forced labor issue.

: During a press conference at the National Assembly, Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong says “if the Japanese government pushes ahead with releasing contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean, Jeju Island will take the lead in filing lawsuits in both the South Korean and Japanese courts and at international tribunals. Jeju Island and the Republic of Korea will not tolerate a single drop of contaminated water from Fukushima.”

: ROK Democratic Party Chairman Lee Nak-yon meets head of Japan-Korea parliamentary group Takeo Kawamura at the National Assembly in Seoul to discuss bilateral relations.

: Suga sends offering to Yasukuni Shrine to commemorate the Japanese autumn festival.

: In a press release, Mitte District Mayor Stephan von Dassel promises to review Berlin comfort women statue issue from South Korean and Japanese perspectives along with the district perspective prior to a decision regarding whether the statue will be removed.

: Kyodo News reports that a Japanese government source states that Suga will not attend a trilateral summit between South Korea, China, and Japan without resolution to the South Korean Supreme Court decision to liquidate assets of Japanese companies Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

: Moon holds a special strategy session with top aides to discuss supporting the campaign of Yoo Myung-hee to be director general of the World Trade Organization.

: At a press conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu says “in order to respond to threats that are diversifying and complex, we will firmly work to strengthen our comprehensive missile deterrence capability.”

: During a press briefing, South Korean spokesman Kim In-chul comments on Japan’s request to remove a comfort women statue near the Japanese embassy in Berlin and states that “the government stepping in to force its removal does not help resolve the problem at all. It also goes against the spirit of the sense of responsibility and self-reflection and apology that Japan has revealed itself.”

: South Korea and Japan agree to ease restrictions and exempt businesspeople from each country from a 14-day mandatory quarantine if they obtain documentation showing they have no health issues within 72 hours of travel.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu requests removal of Berlin comfort woman statue during a call with German counterpart Heiko Maas and says the statue “goes against the position of the Japanese government.”

: After a meeting at the US Department of State with South Korean nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon, Deputy Secretary Biegun tells reporters “The United States and the Republic of Korea remain fully committed to diplomacy as a way to reach an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula, to achieve denuclearization, to bring about a brighter future for all of the Korean people, and to bring about normalcy in the United States’ relationship with the DPRK.”

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apologizes for death of missing South Korean official saying he is “very sorry” about the unexpected and unfortunate situation.

: Suga and Moon hold their first phone call. After the call, Suga briefs Japanese reporters stating, “I told President Moon that we must not leave bilateral relations in the current serious state, such as the feud over the forced labor issue.” According to ROK presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok, “President Moon said the two countries should step up efforts based on a new attitude to resolve pending bilateral issues, including the forced labor issue.”

: South Korea’s Ministry of Defense issues statement saying that missing South Korean official may be in North Korea. It is later revealed that the North Korean side shot the official and burned his body.

: Moon delivers speech by video at the 75th UN General Assembly stating, “I hope that the UN and the international community provide support so that we can advance into an era of reconciliation and prosperity through the end-of-war declaration.”

: Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok reports that Suga “expressed thanks for President Moon’s congratulatory letter and stressed that the two countries are important neighbors” in a letter sent to the South Korean president.

: Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visits Yasukuni Shrine. ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul reacts by expressing “deep concern and regret.”

: Japan’s Diet elects Suga Yoshihide as prime minister. South Korean President Moon Jae-in sends a congratulatory letter to Suga.

: Seoul Western District Prosecutor’s Office indicts South Korean Democratic Party Representative Yoon Mi-hyang for misappropriating funds intended to help comfort women victims. Two days later, the Democratic Party suspends her party membership.

: South Korea and the United States create the “Alliance Dialogue,” a new channel for dialogue between their high-level diplomats. After talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun tells reporters in Washington that “We agreed that Korea and the United States should continue cooperation and communication based on ironclad trust.”

: During the 10th East Asia Summit, ROK FM Kang seeks support from the international community for peace between the two Koreas, explaining that the government of South Korea is “making efforts to improve the livelihood of North Korean people and improve South-North relations through inter-Korean cooperation.”

: South Korean Foreign Ministry official tells reporters “We are making efforts to send out the message that it is crucial to bring back North Korea to dialogue” ahead of South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s participation in virtual meetings with the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Plus Three.

: Center for Strategic and International Studies reports that satellite imagery of North Korean shipyard indicates preparation for tests of medium-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

: Osaka International Peace Center allows families of Korean victims of wartime air raids to request listing of relatives by ethnic Korean names instead of Japanese names.

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