Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

email me

Monday, June 20, 2005

Roh / Koizumi summit pretty much a bust!

Not much good happened. Basically, they agreed to disagree. Geez, you'd think they'd come up with something!

The leaders of Japan and South Korea tried Monday to heal ties wounded by spats over islands and Tokyo’s wartime history, but the Asian neighbors failed at a summit Monday to reach any significant new agreements on resolving their disputes.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said he had a ‘‘honest and sincere discussion’’ with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in two hours of talks mostly focusing on the history issue.

‘‘There were efforts to understand each other and in some areas there was understanding, but there was no agreement,’’ Roh told a news conference in gardens outside the presidential Blue House, where the two leaders spoke in somber tones and refused to take questions.

Relations between South Korea and Japan have soured in recent months with renewed Japanese claims to a set of islets in waters between the countries controlled by Seoul, and Tokyo’s approval of history textbooks that critics say gloss over Japan’s brutal military occupation of much of East Asia in the 1930s and ’40s.

South Korea has also been angered by a Japanese diplomat’s remarks alleging that Washington didn’t trust it with sensitive intelligence.

Koizumi’s annual pilgrimages to a Tokyo war shrine that honors Japanese war dead, including convicted war criminals, have also triggered angry reactions from South Korea, China and other Asian nations that suffered atrocities at the hands of Japan’s wartime troops.

Roh proposed an alternative memorial be built, and said Koizumi responded that the idea would be considered after officials weigh how the move would be seen by the Japanese public. The two sides also agreed to establish a joint history committee.

The leaders also agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea. South Korea and Japan are among the countries seeking the North’s return to six-nation arms talks, which also include China, Russia and the United States.

Koizumi invited Roh to visit Japan sometime this year.