News / Asia

Obama Holds Trilateral Talks With Japan, S. Korea

President Barack Obama meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (r) and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, March 25, 2014, at the US Ambassador's Residence in the Hague, Netherlands.
President Barack Obama meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (r) and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, March 25, 2014, at the US Ambassador's Residence in the Hague, Netherlands.
VOA News
The leaders of Japan and South Korea have met for trilateral discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the international nuclear conference in The Hague.

Before the meeting started Tuesday, Obama said deepening coordination among Washington, Tokyo and Seoul, including “military cooperation that includes joint exercises," is vital to dealing with North Korea.

“Over the last five years, close coordination between our three countries succeeded in changing the game with North Korea and our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response, and that the U.S. commitment to the security of both Japan and the Republic of Korea is unwavering," he said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both agreed that a united response is very important when dealing with the threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Relations between the two U.S. allies have been strained in recent years and this was the first formal meeting between South Korea's president and Japan's prime minister.

The United States has been urging Tokyo and Seoul to reduce tensions over historical disputes and focus on issues of common interest, such as North Korea's nuclear program.

Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korean studies professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said the U.S. is used to its role as peace broker between Seoul and Tokyo.

"Well, the United States has found itself once again in the role of trying to be an intermediary between its two allies in northeast Asia.  And this is not a new role for the United States, even though it is frustrating for the U.S.  This kind of role playing by the U.S., it goes back to the Korean War; the exigencies of the war in 1950 created the need for the United States to bring Japan and South Korea together," said Lee.

Jang Yong-seok, senior researcher at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, describes the meeting in The Hague as a chance to improve cooperation on North Korea's nuclear program.

“There has been lack of coordination among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan on the North Korean nuclear issue as diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue are in a deadlock. This meeting will provide an opportunity to restore coordination and enhance cooperation among the three parties to resolve the nuclear issue," said Yong-seok.

Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told reporters Friday that this trilateral meeting would be an important session.

"We believe this is a very important message to show the United States aligned with our two most important allies in northeast Asia. It's a signal of our commitment to the security of northeast Asia and our belief that when the United States and our allies stand together, we are much stronger in the region and in the world," said Rhodes.

Last week, South Korea said the talks Tuesday would not include the contentious issue of so-called "comfort women," who were used by Japan's military as sex slaves during World War II. Seoul said the two sides were in consultations over holding lower-level meetings on the issue.

President Park has repeatedly refused offers to hold a bilateral summit with Abe, citing Japan's refusal to apologize again for crimes committed during its colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945, and Japan's use of Korean women as sex slaves.  

Tokyo is pointing to numerous apologies the Japanese government has already made, and a 1965 agreement that normalized relations and included a large payment to Seoul.  

South Korea, along with China, protested Abe's December visit to a controversial war shrine. It also criticized Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in February when he said the government would re-examine the testimonies of former comfort women that were used as the basis of a 1993 apology.

Abe this month promised to honor Tokyo's previous apologies over its colonial past, including the 1993 statement by then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono.

Kono gave a speech about his investigation of 16 comfort women.  In the speech, he admitted that during World War II, Japan pressed many comfort women into service.  He then expressed an apology and self-reflection. Since then, the speech has come to be known as the “Kono Statement.”

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Shintaro Sakamoto from: Japan
March 25, 2014 11:38 PM
”This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.”

Where is VOA Japanese service?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs