August 16, 2019 10:46
President Moon Jae-in struck a conciliatory tone toward Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday. "We will gladly join hands if Japan takes the path of dialogue and cooperation," Moon said in a speech marking the 74th anniversary of Korea's independence from Japan.
"We will strive with Japan to create an East Asia that engages in fair trade and cooperation," he added, but also pledged to build South Korea into an economic powerhouse in response to Japan's "unjust export restrictions."
Vowing to "never again lose to Japan," Moon had previously threatened tough steps to deal Tokyo's export curbs, but on Thursday he refrained from further direct jabs.
"Let's build a nation that will not be shaken," he added. At the end of his speech, Moon raised his fist and said, "We can do it."
Moon also dwelt again on economic cooperation with North Korea and forecast that the two Koreas will be reunified by 2045. "I seek to achieve independence through reunification," he said. "We will rise proudly as 'one Korea' no later than 2045 when we celebrate 100 years of independence and after jointly hosting the 2032 Summer Olympics in Seoul and Pyongyang."
He did not criticize North Korea for its latest missile tests or verbal broadsides against South Korea. "Despite a few concerning acts by North Korea, the atmosphere of dialogue remains unshaken," he claimed. "There are those who are skeptical of the 'peace economy' at a time when North Korea is firing missiles, but we have an even more powerful defense capability."
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Moon's latest comments were "very moderate" compared to his previous remarks.
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