Moon Eyes Japan Visit After Pyeongchang Olympics

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    January 02, 2018 13:05

    President Moon Jae-in is considering a visit to Japan after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February, a senior ruling party official said Monday.

    The plans come at a tense time in Korea-Japan relations after a government inquiry found that a deal with Tokyo to compensate Korean victims of wartime sex slavery was seriously flawed.

    No Korean president has visited Japan since Lee Myung-bak in December 2011. The deal, struck in murky circumstances with the Park Geun-hye administration in 2015, was to have eased relations, but now things are up in the air again.

    "Cheong Wa Dae is pushing ahead with Moon's visit to Japan as a way to settle the issue," the official said. 

    President Moon Jae-in poses with citizens on Mt. Bukhan in Seoul on Monday. /Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae

    Tokyo has proposed to Korea and China a trilateral summit in Japan in April, the first since November 2015.

    Since he took office in May last year, Moon has visited the U.S., China and Russia. Whether the visit materializes depends on whether Tokyo is mollified by Moon's official statement on the deal expected this week.

    After a Foreign Ministry task force published the report last week, Moon said the sex slavery issue "can't be settled like that." But Cheong Wa Dae later said this means "neither an abrogation of the deal nor a demand for renegotiation."

    Cheong Wa Dae is now seeking a two-track solution so that urgent current business can be separated from the thorny issues of the past.

    A presidential official said there will be a "creative solution" that will "redefine history without causing any harm to diplomacy." That most likely means the sex slavery issue will be put on the back burner again indefinitely. 

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