South Korea, Japan, differ over summit ‘agreement’

AP file photo
President Joe Biden, center, meets with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the NATO summit in Madrid on June 29.

SEOUL — Japan and South Korea are at odds over an “agreement” announced by the South Korean presidential Blue House.

Seoul said Thursday it had agreed with Tokyo on a bilateral summit meeting between President Yoon Suk-yeol and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to be held this month on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, adding that arrangements were currently underway to nail down a date.

A presidential office official told reporters that the agreement was reached “willingly,” and that the meeting was expected to last “about 30 minutes,” in light of other scheduling.

However, a senior representative of the Japanese Foreign Ministry denied the existence of any such consensus.

A different Japanese official said Thursday: “I don’t know anything about it. I simply can’t understand why such an announcement was issued.”

Tokyo reportedly believes that circumstances do not currently warrant such a meeting due to Seoul’s lack of response on efforts to resolve a lawsuit involving Japanese companies and former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula, among other issues. Even if the two leaders were to meet, contact would likely be brief.

However, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is likely to meet with his counterpart, Park Jin, later this month in New York.