|President Moon Jae-in, left, and new Ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il pose after a ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae, Thursday. Yonhap|
By Do Je-hae
Amid increased bilateral tensions between Korea and Japan resulting from a recent local court ruling regarding a historical issue, diplomatic experts expressed the importance of proceeding with the 9th Korea-China-Japan summit as planned.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga lashed out at Seoul after a local court ruling last week in favor of surviving South Korean victims of wartime sex slavery who demanded compensation from Tokyo. The Japanese leader reiterated that all colonial-era reparations were completely concluded with the 1965 normalization treaty.
President Moon officially appointed Kang Chang-il as his new ambassador to Japan, Thursday, during a ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae. It is expected that one of the first things the new envoy will focus on is persuading the Japanese side to attend the annual summit. Suga is hesitant to visit Korea unless there is progress in the existing deadlock between the two countries on the issue of compensation for surviving South Korean victims of wartime forced labor.
Some diplomatic experts are underlining the need for the three-way summit to proceed as planned, given its special role in promoting not only trilateral cooperation, but also softening the mood between Korea and Japan at intense moments in bilateral relations. Moon met with Japan's then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the three-way summit in Chengdu, China, in December 2019, a few months after the bilateral tension peaked with Japan's export restrictions earlier that year.
"Diplomatic platforms that have been difficult to build in the past should be respected and utilized as much as possible. It is very difficult to create such a three-way summit in Northeast Asia," former Ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon said in a recent Facebook post.