S. Korean, Japanese lawmakers call for normalizing ties, condemn N.K. provocations

SEOUL– South Korean and Japanese lawmakers called Thursday for normalizing ties badly frayed over historic issues and condemned North Korea’s escalating nuclear and missile threats.

“We express concern over the discord building up between the two countries over historic issues involving wartime forced laborers and tightened regulations on exports to South Korea,” members of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union and Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union said in a joint statement following their annual general meeting in Seoul.

“We have reached a consensus that South Korea-Japan relations should swiftly be normalized to overcome this situation,” they said, urging the two countries to uphold the spirit of the 1998 Kim Dae-jung-Obuchi Declaration that called for overcoming the past and building new relations.

For this initiative, lawmakers from the neighboring countries said they plan to request a summit between their leaders to establish new relations and help create a supportive environment for dialogue.

To better counter Pyongyang’s growing military threats, the lawmakers said they plan to push for talks on security issues between the two countries and urge their respective governments to come up with measures on humanitarian support and human rights issues of abductees to North Korea.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile and two short-range missiles toward the East Sea on Thursday, just a day after it launched a barrage of missiles, including one that flew across its de facto maritime border with the South for the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Other agendas included in their agreement were strengthening energy and economic cooperation and expanding civilian exchanges that were suspended due to the coronavirus.

Key officials and lawmakers from the two countries, including Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, ruling party chief Chung Jin-suk and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi, attended the meeting, the first to take place in three years due to the pandemic.

Their next general meeting is slated to take place in Japan in 2023.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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