Genuine partnership between Seoul and Tokyo is a goal worth pursuing

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will make a two-day trip to Japan starting Sunday. It will be the first visit by South Korea’s top diplomat to the neighboring country since the launch of President Park Geun-hye’s administration in February 2013.

In the past few years, Seoul-Tokyo ties have remained at their lowest ebb since the two sides restored diplomatic relations five decades ago. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historic revisionism, which glosses over Japan’s past wrongdoings, is mainly responsible for the strained relationship. In particular, his cabinet’s backpedaling on the issue of the wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women for imperial Japanese soldiers has held back the two countries from moving forward and deepening their partnership. But it may be fair to say the Park administration has also lacked efforts to make a breakthrough in the frayed ties with Japan from a future-oriented perspective. The importance of strengthening cooperation between the two countries requires it to go beyond staying in tune with public sentiment. It is strategically wise and realistically inevitable for Seoul to seek to decouple historical disputes with Tokyo from economic and security cooperation. Enhanced partnership between the two countries would contribute to boosting regional stability and prosperity.