SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – South Korea’s president yesterday called Japan “a partner that shares the same universal values” and renewed hopes to repair ties frayed over Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Since taking office in May last year, President Yoon Suk-yeol has been pushing to mend the historical grievance with Japan and boost a Seoul-Tokyo-Washington security cooperation to better cope with increasing North Korean nuclear threats.
In a televised speech marking the 1919 uprising against the Japanese colonisers, Yoon urged his people to remember what he called “patriotic martyrs who gave their all for our country’s freedom and independence during the dark days”. But he avoided mentioning any specific colonial wrongdoing as he explained why greater cooperation with Japan is needed.
“Now, a century after the March First Independence Movement, Japan has transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner that shares the same universal values with us and cooperate on issues of security, economy and global agendas,” Yoon said.
“In particular, the trilateral cooperation among the Republic of Korea, the United States (US) and Japan has become more important than ever to overcome the serious nuclear threats posed by North Korea and global polycrisis,” Yoon said.
A professor at Ewha University in Seoul Leif-Eric Easley, said Yoon’s address “offers hopeful signs not only for Seoul’s relations with Tokyo, but also for South Korea’s role in the world”.
“Emphasising shared values is much more than rhetoric if backed up by a foreign policy that deepens trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan while increasing contributions to global efforts, such as supporting Ukraine, strengthening supply chains, and countering climate change,” Easley said.