October 26, 2015 10:21
President Park Geun-hye will finally sit down face to face with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the trilateral summit between Korea, China and Japan on Nov. 1.
It remains to be seen whether their meeting will break the impasse between Seoul and Tokyo over Japan's historical revisionism and persistent colonial claims to Korea's Dokdo islets.
A senior Cheong Wa Dae official on Sunday said Korea and Japan are "in the final stage" of preparatory talks for a summit and the schedule will be announced early this week.
Japanese broadcaster NHK also reported Friday that the bilateral summit will precede the trilateral meeting and that the two countries’ foreign ministers will meet beforehand to fine-tune the agenda.
Park has so far refused to meet Abe unless he admits his country's colonial and World War II atrocities, chief among them the mobilization of Korean and other women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.
In the U.S. earlier this month, Park said in a question-and-answer session, "Two weeks from now, we plan to host in Seoul a South Korea-Japan-China summit, which has been suspended for three and a half years. I think that could be an opportunity to hold summit talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe."
One diplomatic source said a lot of people "felt it would be better not to hold a summit with Japan, because it was deemed unlikely to achieve anything on the issue of former sex slaves." But the source added it was then deemed necessary to discuss current matters like the North Korean nuclear threat, and there were also concerns that giving the cold shoulder to the Japanese leader would do more harm than good in terms of international relations."
A Cheong Wa Dae official admitted that the sex slaves issue "is not going to be settled at this summit."
Park will also tell the Japanese prime minister that Japan's Self-Defense Forces will not be allowed to operate on the Korean Peninsula without Seoul's consent, the official added.
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