torsdag 16. mars 2023

South Korea and Japan: A milestone meeting of frenemies

South Korea and Japan's leaders meet in Tokyo on Thursday in what has been hailed as a new "milestone" in their fraught relationship. It comes just as North Korea fired a fourth round of missiles in a week. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has pulled off quite the coup to get this summit. This is the first time a South Korean leader has been invited to Tokyo for such a meeting in 12 years.

The relationship between these neighbours has been plagued for decades by their difficult history. South Korea was colonised by Japan from 1910 until the end of World War Two. Japanese soldiers forced hundreds of thousands of Koreans to work in its mines and factories. Women were pushed into sexual slavery. These scars, while no longer fresh, are not forgotten nor forgiven here.

But last week, President Yoon dropped the demand that Japan compensate some of the victims of its slavery. He agreed South Korea would raise the money instead. In doing so he sought to put aside the past for the sake of the security of northeast Asia.