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The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

US hails S Korea, Japan PMs ’Historic’ meet amid N Korea threat

Published: 23:33, 17 March 2023

US hails S Korea, Japan PMs  ’Historic’ meet amid N Korea threat

The leaders of Japan and South Korea promised to turn the page on years of animosity at a meeting on Thursday, putting aside their difficult shared history and pledging to work together to counter regional security challenges.
The summit between South Korea's Yoon Suk Yeol and Japan's Fumio Kishida in Tokyo - the first visit to Japan by a South Korean president in 12 years - highlighted how the two U.S. allies have been brought closer by North Korea's frequent missile launches and growing concern over China's more muscular role on the international stage.
The urgency of the regional security situation - and the threat posed by North Korea - were underscored hours before Yoon's arrival, when North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
Washington hailed the summit, calling Japan and South Korea "indispensable allies".
"Improved ties between Seoul and Tokyo will help us embrace trilateral opportunities to advance our common regional and international priorities, including our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," a State Department spokesperson said. "We applaud Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon for taking this positive step forward."
Seoul-Tokyo tensions have long undercut U.S.-led efforts to present a united front against China and North Korea.
"The fact that President Yoon visited Japan and the two countries held a bilateral meeting - rather than on the sidelines of an international forum - that alone should be commended as a possible turning point," said Hideki Okuzono, an international relations professor at the University of Shizuoka.
Christopher Johnstone, formerly East Asia director of U.S. President Joe Biden's National Security Council and now with Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there was reason for optimism the breakthrough would prove durable, given shared concerns about China snd North Korea.
"Both Yoon and Kishida are early in their tenures, which increases the likelihood that the new tone in bilateral relations will solidify into a stronger foundation for bilateral ties," he said. "The fact that Yoon and Kishida own this breakthrough gives them motivation to see that it endures.”