On Liberation Day, Seoul vows to improve ties with Tokyo

Seoul, Aug 15 (EFE).- South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday vowed to improve ties with Japan during his commemorative speech for the 77th anniversary of the end of the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

He also offered economic aid to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization during a Liberation Day ceremony in the garden of the presidential office.

“In the past, we had to unshackle ourselves from the political control imposed upon us by imperial Japan so that we could regain and defend our freedom,” Yoon said. “Today, Japan is our partner as we face common threats that challenge the freedom of global citizens.”

The conservative president, who came to power in May, said that “when Korea-Japan relations move towards a common future and when the mission of our times aligns, based on our shared universal values, it will also help us solve the historical problems that exist between our two countries,” and made reference to the 1998 joint declaration, which sought to recover the friendly relationship between Seoul and Tokyo.

Ties between the two neighbors reached their lowest point in decades during the previous liberal South Korean government of president Moon Jae-in and many hope that they will improve under the Yoon administration.

Meanwhile, Japan on Monday marked the 77th anniversary of its surrender at the end of World War II and, as every year, paid tribute to fallen soldiers in a Tokyo memorial attended by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Yoon also pointed to a plan to help North Korea economically in the event that the country takes steps towards its denuclearization, which he considers “essential” to peace on the peninsula.

“The audacious initiative that I envision will significantly improve North Korea’s economy and its people’s livelihoods in stages if the North ceases the development of its nuclear program and embarks on a genuine and substantive process for denuclearization,” Yoon said.

“We will implement a large-scale food program, provide assistance for power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, and carry out projects to modernize ports and airports for international trade.”

North Korea, which sealed itself off from the outside at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, has ignored calls from South Korea and the United States to resume stalled talks on denuclearization.

Last year it approved a weapons modernization plan that is behind the record number of weapons tests it has carried out this year and preparations for a new atomic test, which would be the seventh in the Asian country and the first since 2017. EFE


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