PN's Voice 58

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 58, 29-10-2015
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PN's Voice No. 58  29. 10. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

S. Korea & Japan to Hold First Summit in 3 Years

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet in Seoul on Monday for a rare chance at discuss differences face to face. It will be the first summit talks between Japanese and South Korean leaders in more than three years. Park and Abe have met at international events since taking office, but have so far avoided holding bilateral talks due to deteriorating ties between the Asian neighbors.

Kim Kyou-Hyun, Park’s top foreign affairs and security aide, told reporters on Wednesday the leaders will take their time to fully discuss issues of mutual interests and ways to improve bilateral ties. “They are expected to exchange in-depth perspectives on a number of issues, including the issue of comfort women,” Kim said in reference to Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army during World War II.

Speaking to Japanese news outlets, Abe responded to reporters’ questions about the sexual slavery issue by saying he is willing to exchange frank views on such matters with Park. Abe's comment appears to be a direct response to Seoul's request that the bilateral summit include a discussion on sexual slavery. Abe also said he would like to have discussions on building future relations between the two countries, adding that there are many tasks that require consultations and he believes there will be a fair number of points on which the two leaders may agree. Other issues on the agenda include conditions for Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ to enter the Korean peninsula, the North Korean nuclear program, and participation at the U.S.-led trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Washington has long sought to mend the ties between its two major allies in East Asia, walking a delicate line between the two sides. Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have cooled since Abe came to power in December 2012.
Source : Voice of America, The Korea Herald, KBS News

Ex-Japanese PM Urges Abe to Open Dialogue on Sexual Slavery

Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama publically stated today that current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should make a determination to embark on sincere negotiations with South Korea over the resolution of Tokyo's wartime sex enslavement of Korean women. Murayama, who served as Prime Minster from 1994-1996, made the remarks as the leaders from South Korea and Japan prepare to hold their first summit in more than three years next Monday amid diplomatic tension over Japan's sex slaves during World War II.

Murayama said that Abe should lead Seoul and Tokyo in making diplomatic efforts that address the issue; "(Seoul and Tokyo) could find a solution to the issue if they are to hold genuine negotiations," Murayama told a forum on global peace in Seoul…As Park has strongly called for the resolution of the issue, there has been no summit between them for a long time," he said. "The Seoul-Tokyo relations have been also frayed...The two leaders have a responsibility for making a breakthrough."

Murayama said Abe's statement issued in August was "too vague" compared with his 1995 statement stating Japan's apology for its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Abe stopped short of a direct apology for his country's wartime deeds. The so-called Murayama Statement has been regarded as a key element of the basis of relations between Seoul and Tokyo, along with Japan's 1993 landmark "Kono Statement" apologizing for its wartime sexual slavery. "Abe needs to clarify whether he has sincerity in apologizing for Tokyo's wartime acts," said Murayama.
Source : Yonhap News

Heritage Foundation: N. Korea Biggest Threat to US

Heritage Foundation, a U.S. think tank, says North Korea is the biggest threat to the United States. In its 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation ranked the North as a “severe” threat to vital U.S. interests. It is the first time the conservative think tank has rated any nation as a “severe” threat, the highest in a five-level threat assessment scale. Russia, China and terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan were assessed as “high” threats to U.S. vital interests, one tier below North Korea, while Iran and Middle East terrorism were classified as “elevated” threats.

The Heritage Foundation also raised Pyongyang’s level of behavior from “aggressive” to “hostile,” explaining that the move was “driven by the Pyongyang regime’s cyber attack on Sony and continued provocative actions on the Korean peninsula.” Additionally, the think tank warned that that Pyongyang likely has already mastered the technology to put a nuclear warhead on a missile: "North Korea likely has already achieved warhead miniaturization, the ability to place nuclear weapons on its medium-range missiles, and an ability to reach the continental United States with a missile" the foundation’s report said.
Source : Yonhap News, KBS News, The Heritage foundation

North Korea Returns Remains of Missing US Soldier

The remains of Cpl Robert V Witt, a formerly missing US soldier, have been returned to the US nearly 65 years after he died during the Korean War. The Department of Defense POW/MIA accounting agency said in a statement that in late November 1950, Witt was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. Witt’s combat team was attacked by Chinese forces at the battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On 1 December 1950, remnants of the 31st regimental combat team tried moving to a position south of the reservoir – the next day, Witt was reported missing in action. In 1953, during prisoner of war exchanges, repatriated US soldiers told officials Witt had been captured and died from malnutrition. It’s believed he died on 31 January 1951. His remains were finally returned to the US by North Korea earlier this week to his sister Laverne Minnick, 82.

North Korea has often been uncooperative with other nations with issues such as this or investigating the fate of kidnapped Japanese nationals in the 1970s, who were forcibly brought to North Korea as part of a spy training program. However, in the past Pyongyang has used interactions like this or the release of detained Americans or offers to postpone nuclear and/or missile tests as a way of reaching out to the US and initiate dialogue. Time will time whether this marks the beginning of a new attempt from Pyongyang of engaging Washington.
Source : The Guardian

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