The Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, based in Seoul and operated by Korea, China and Japan, held an international seminar here on Monday focusing on changes in Northeast Asia amid mounting tensions in the region over territorial disputes and the unresolved legacy of World War II.
Lu Shumin, vice-president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, gave a keynote speech at the opening ceremony. The three countries "should appropriately handle differences and boost healthy development of cooperation," Lu said. "They must acknowledge their past history and make sure they live up to their responsibility to boost peace and stability in the region."
Japanese lawmaker Masaharu Nakagawa, a former minister of education, culture, sports, science and Technology, said there are many instances when the three countries fail to make rational decisions due to prejudice, and urged them to come up with a "big map" that details mutual benefits. He also called for the speedy resumption of FTA talks between Korea, China and Japan.
A total of 1.52 billion people live in the three countries, accounting for 22.3 percent of the global population. Their combined GDP totals US$10.6 trillion or 18.6 percent of the world's GDP. Korean TV dramas and pop music are hugely popular in China and Japan, while Japanese novels have become bestsellers in Korea and China, demonstrating the deepening economic and cultural ties. But they all choose new leaders this year, causing nationalistic and territorial issues to rise to the surface.
The opinion leaders at the forum proposed different solutions, but they all agreed that tensions in the region have reached a serious level and must be eased. If the three countries wish to avoid tensions and clashes, they must constantly keep the channels of communication open and search for the causes of problems and seek solutions together. The TCS marks the first step in that direction.