After several years of diplomatic and commercial disagreements, Japan and South Korea settled their differences on Thursday to unite against Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threat. At a summit in Tokyo, Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, and the South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeolThey agreed to “fully normalize” their pact to exchange military and intelligence information, which had been suspended for four years.
Called the General Security Agreement on Military Information, it was signed in 2016, but the previous South Korean Administration, led by then President Moon Jae-in, paralyzed it in 2019 and even threatened to cancel it due to its trade disputes and restrictions on Japanese technology exports. to seoul. To end these tensions of the past, Tokyo will immediately lift these limitations, which affect three key industries in the manufacture of microchips and displays. For its part, South Korea will withdraw the complaint filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
This improvement in bilateral relations has been possible thanks to the change last year in the Blue House, as the South Korean presidential residence is known. The victory of the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol stopped the “thaw” that his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, had attempted with the communist regime in Pyongyang. Despite the summits that he led between Kim Jong-un and the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, the failure of their negotiations has returned military tension to the Korean peninsula.
In this new scenario, Yoon has decided to strengthen his alliance not only with the US, with which he has resumed joint military maneuvers like the ones this week, but also with Japan. “Prime Minister Kishida and I have concluded that Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile development threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and the world,” she explained at the end of the summit, according to Yonhap. . In addition, he announced that “we have agreed that, in order to respond to North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated nuclear and missile threats, cooperation between South Korea, the US and Japan is extremely important and we must continue to actively collaborate.” ».
Proof of this is that, hours before leaving for Tokyo, Pyongyang fired an intercontinental missile, the third in recent days after the two strategic submarine projectiles launched over the weekend. According to Yonhap, the Joint Chiefs of Staff detected the launch at 7:10 in the morning (11:10 p.m. on Wednesday, Spanish peninsular time) from the Sunan area, where the Pyongyang airport is located. For 69 minutes, and drawing a parabola, the projectile traveled about a thousand kilometers to the east before falling into the sea south of the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost of the Japanese archipelago. While waiting for more information, the South Korean and US military suspect that it may be a Hwasong-17 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, with the capacity to travel up to 13,000 kilometers and hit US soil. In February, the Kim Jong-un regime already fired a Hwasong-15, which has a range of 10,000 kilometers.
With this threat on the horizon, Tokyo and Seoul have chosen to heal the lingering wounds of Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula, which lasted from 1910 until its defeat in 1945 in World War II. One of the thorniest issues is that of compensation for Koreans who suffered forced labor in large Japanese companies, such as Mitsubishi or Nippon Steel, which in 2018 were sentenced by a court in Seoul. It was precisely this ruling that led to Japan’s restriction of technology exports to South Korea the following year.
Although President Yoon’s government announced less than two weeks ago the creation of a public foundation affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior to compensate victims with donations from South Korean companies, some reject it due to the absence of the Japanese companies that used that labor forced. Yoon has already said that he is not going to ask Japanese firms for money to pay such compensation because he has “the determination to move forward in relations between South Korea and Japan.” In his opinion, the important thing is to improve bilateral relations and with the US to face the nuclear challenge of Kim Jong-un. “The visit is significant because it signals that relations between South Korea and Japan, tense up to now, have entered a phase of sincere normalization,” National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han congratulated this week.
Since December 2011, Japan and South Korea have not held a bilateral summit, since the last visit of the previous president, Moon Jae-in, was for the G-20 summit held in Osaka in June 2019. Four years later, Tokyo and Seoul open a new stage of collaboration to face the threat of Kim Jong-un, the atomic dictator.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism