Kishida Mulls South Korea Visit in March to Meet With Yoon; May Also Attend Summit for Democracy, Shohei Ohtani’s Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game

Yomiuri Shimbun file photos
Left: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
Right: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering visiting South Korea on March 20 to hold talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, according to Japanese government sources.

Kishida may also attend the Summit for Democracy to be hosted by the South Korean government during his trip, which is to be part of a series of reciprocal visits between the leaders of Japan and South Korea, the sources said. If the plan goes ahead, it will be Kishida’s first visit to South Korea since May last year.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Stanford University in California in November last year.

There are moves in South Korea to make historical issues between the two countries a point of contention in the South Korean general elections in April. Therefore, the final decision on Kishida’s visit will hinge on the political climate in South Korea.

If the visit takes place, Kishida and Yoon are expected to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear development. They are also likely to review the implementation of the South Korean government’s plan to resolve the lawsuits brought by former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula.

The Summit for Democracy will be held in mid-March, with heads of state for democratic countries participating remotely. Kishida is considering attending in person, together with Yoon. The prime minister hopes it will be a good opportunity for both countries, which share common values, to stress yet again the importance of the rule of law and convey their implacable opposition to any attempt to change the status quo by force.

Shohei Ohtani’s Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to open their season in Seoul on March 20, and it has been suggested that Kishida and Yoon might attend the game together.

AP Photo/Ashley Landis
Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani participates in spring training baseball workouts at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.