Seoul, Tokyo to reinforce security cooperation against Pyongyang

(Updated with news from joint press conference after bilateral meet)

Tokyo, March 16 (EFE).- The prime ministers of Japan and South Korea, Fumio Kishida and Yoon Suk-yeol, respectively, on Thursday pledged to strengthen their bilateral security cooperation and with the United States against threat from North Korea’s arms developments.

Kishida and Yoon, in a joint address following their summit in the Japanese capital, underlined the “urgency” of boosting collaboration against the increasing progress in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program, which they called a threat to the whole of Asia.

“President Yoon and I met for the talks and in a tough strategic environment, we have agreed to recognize the urgency of cooperative relations,” said Kishida, according to state broadcaster NHK.

“We actually share universal values, including democracy and also in terms of security and economic alliance. We pursue the common interests we are the closest ally in this regard,” said Yoon on his part.

The two sides also discussed sharing military intelligence.

The South Korean President arrived in Japan Thursday in what is the first bilateral visit by a head of state of the two nations in 12 years.

The visit marked a rapprochement between the two countries, and comes hours after a fresh missile test by North Korea.

Yoon arrived around 11.30 am local time at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport with his wife, First Lady Kim Keon-hee, on a private plane.

Yoon’s two-day visit comes less than two weeks after Seoul announced a plan to settle the two countries’ long-running dispute over compensation for Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.

According to the plan, a public foundation affiliated with the South Korean Ministry of Interior will compensate those affected with donations from domestic companies that benefited from donations made by Japan based on a bilateral compensation agreement signed in 1965.

The plan, welcomed by Tokyo, has sparked protests among several of the victims and led to rejection by many South Koreans over the lack of involvement of Japanese conglomerates.

Yoon has expressed his desire for the improvement of relations with Japan, which he considers essential to restore bilateral economic exchanges and to respond and effectively counter North Korea’s military threat.

Shortly before his departure for Tokyo, Yoon told an emergency National Security Council meeting that North Korea would pay for its reckless provocations, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Yoon’s visit to Japan is expected to mark the start of increased diplomatic exchanges between the two countries, including a possible visit by Prime Minister Kishida to South Korea in the summer and an invitation by Tokyo for Seoul to participate in May’s G7 summit as an observer, according to Japanese news agency Jiji. EFE


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