Japan’s top diplomat responds to South Korea after Fukushima anniversary

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March 17 (UPI) — Japan’s foreign ministry responded to a letter from South Korea sent on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

South Korea said Wednesday the letter from Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was received Tuesday, less than a week after his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong sent a letter of consolation, SBS and Yonhap reported.

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Motegi thanked Chung for his letter, but no other issues were addressed in his message, reports said.

Last week, Chung sent a letter to Motegi that stated Japan set an example in disaster recovery. The South Korean people at the time “empathized with the people of Japan” in the aftermath of the earthquake and nuclear disaster, Chung said.

Chung has exchanged phone calls with his counterparts in other countries since assuming his position Feb. 9, but he has yet to speak directly to Motegi by phone, according to reports.

Japan also has not responded to South Korean proposals to improve relations. Last month, President Moon Jae-in said Seoul is prepared to develop “future-oriented” ties.

“The Korean government is always ready to sit down and have talks with the Japanese government,” Moon had said.

Japan and South Korea have been unable to narrow differences over history and restitution for past injustices.

South Korean courts have ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation for the exploitation of Korean laborers in wartime. The decisions have irritated Japan, and the government has said all compensation was paid out under a bilateral treaty signed in 1965.

Members of U.S. President Joe Biden‘s Cabinet traveling in Asia this week have said trilateral cooperation among the three countries is critical for regional security.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has named China as the primary threat to international order. In Japan on Tuesday, U.S. and Japanese officials reaffirmed a joint stand against Chinese policy affecting disputed waters and the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands.