Prime minister Fumio Kishida indicated Thursday it remains unclear when Japan and South Korea can build on a meeting between their leaders with a formal summit, a symbolic move toward improving bilateral ties long frayed over history and territorial issues.
“Nothing has been decided at the moment,” Kishida said at a press conference in New York of the prospects for a summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, a day after the leaders held their first in-person, sit-down meeting.
Both governments characterised the talks as informal. The meeting was held behind closed doors and lasted for about 30 minutes.
The two leaders of the neighbouring East Asian countries agreed to restore sound bilateral relations during their meeting on the sidelines of the UN general Assembly’s annual session, according to their governments.
Kishida and Yoon also shared grave concerns over North Korean missile and nuclear threats, and pledged to enhance cooperation to deal with issues related to Pyongyang, the two countries said.
Ties between Tokyo and Seoul have deteriorated for roughly the past three years over wartime labour and territorial issues, reaching the worst level in decades under the administration of Yoon’s predecessor Moon Jae In. Yoon took office in May.
Leaders of Japan and South Korea last had a formal, face-to-face summit in December 2019.
At the news conference, Kishida also showed his willingness to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying that Tokyo and Beijing will “consider and arrange specific ways of dialogue.”
Leaders from Japan and China have not held in-person talks since December 2019, as the two countries remain at odds over the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China, as well as rising concerns over the Taiwan Strait.
Tensions over Taiwan have grown following a trip by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August to the self-ruled democratic island, which Beijing views as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.