Joint Press Conference by the Leaders of Japan and the Republic of Korea

March 16, 2023
[Provisional translation]
[Opening Statement by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio]

I welcome President YOON Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea (ROK) most wholeheartedly in his visit to Japan. This week, in Tokyo the cherry blossoms have come into full bloom, and now, as we emerge from a long period of winter, we welcome the President of the ROK to Japan as the first bilateral visit in roughly 12 years.
In my meeting with President Yoon, we were in full agreement that the strengthening of Japan-ROK relations is a matter of pressing urgency in the current strategic environment, and that we will further develop Japan-ROK relations, based on the foundation of the friendly and cooperative relations we have cultivated since the normalization of our diplomatic relations in 1965.
Recently, the ROK Government announced measures regarding the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula. The Government of Japan commends these measures as a step towards restoring healthy Japan-ROK relations, which have been in extremely severe circumstances. During our summit meeting, we confirmed that the Government of Japan takes up in its entirety the position of previous cabinets on the recognition of the history, including the Japan-ROK Joint Declaration announced in October 1998. I look forward to a robust expansion of exchanges between our two countries in the future in such fields as politics, the economy, and culture, alongside the implementation of these measures.
In order to open up a new chapter in Japan-ROK relations, during the meeting I held with President Yoon today, we agreed to restart "shuttle diplomacy," with the leaders of our nations each frequently visiting the other's country, regardless of the form in which those visits take place.
In addition, with regard to Japan-ROK relations, we agreed to invigorate communications between our governments across a wide range of fields. In concrete terms, first of all, we shared the same stance that we will restart at an early time the Japan-ROK Security Dialogue and also the Japan-ROK Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue, both of which have been suspended for a long time, and we agreed on the importance of relaunching the high-level Japan-ROK-China trilateral process at an early time. We also decided to launch consultations between Japan and the ROK regarding economic security. In addition, we made progress in the area of export control. In the future we will promote a wide range of dialogue in various policy areas between our respective ministries and agencies in charge.
In addition, private sector exchanges and cooperation are a framework supporting bilateral relations. I welcome the fact that, taking the opportunity of President Yoon's visit to Japan, economic federations in both Japan and the ROK have announced they will each establish a fund for future-oriented Japan-ROK cooperation and exchange. The Government of Japan will continue to support exchanges among young people, who will hold the key to our nations' futures.
Exchanges between our two countries have now recovered, and as for the number of foreign visitors to our two countries, it is ROK and Japanese nationals that are each visiting the other's country in the greatest number. I very much look forward to a further acceleration of the virtuous cycle of increasingly active people-to-people exchanges and improvements in our relations.
President Yoon and I also shared a common recognition of the current harsh security environment. In particular, with regard to responses to North Korea, which is further pursuing nuclear and missile activities, including this morning's launch of an ICBM-class ballistic missile, we confirmed the importance of further reinforcing the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and ROK-U.S. Alliance and of vigorously promoting security cooperation both between Japan and the ROK and among Japan, the ROK, and the U.S. The window for dialogue with North Korea remains open. That fact has not changed. President Yoon also expressed strong support once again regarding the abductions issue.
Moreover, we reaffirmed the importance of bringing about a free and open Indo-Pacific at this historic turning point, and we shared a common recognition of the importance of like-minded countries working together to fully defend the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
This visit by President Yoon to Japan has been a major step forward for the normalization of Japan-ROK relations. I am looking forward to the opportunity to speak in even greater depth with President Yoon and the First Lady at the dinner scheduled to take place after this. With President Yoon's visit to Japan as a turning point, I have high hopes for us to cultivate our trust and friendship and for Japan-ROK relations to make great strides forward.

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