Kishida mulling skipping Yoon’s inauguration

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering skipping the inauguration ceremony for South Korea’s incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol scheduled for May 10, Japanese government sources said Monday.

Instead, Kishida plans to send Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to the ceremony, according to the sources.

Although Yoon has shown a positive stance on improving the relationship between Japan and South Korea, Kishida judged that South Korea needs first to come up with concrete actions toward the resolutions of wartime labor and other pending bilateral issues.

The Japanese government is arranging a meeting between Hayashi and Yoon, as well as talks between the Japanese foreign minister and Park Jin, who has been nominated as foreign minister in Yoon’s administration.

Through the meetings, the Japanese side is expected to seek concrete actions by South Korea to resolve the bilateral issues, also including the issue of so-called comfort women, who served as prostitutes for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Japan also aims to affirm cooperation with South Korea and trilateral cooperation among the two countries plus the United States in dealing with North Korea’s accelerated nuclear and missile development.

Some members of Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party had voiced concerns over the possibility of the prime minister attending the inauguration ceremony, claiming that such a move might send the wrong message to the South Korean government, the sources said.

Of past presidential inaugurations in South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun’s ceremony in 2003 was attended by then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Lee Myung-bak’s inauguration in 2008 by then Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Park Geun-hye’s ceremony in 2013 by then Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.