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(LEAD) Yoon set to speak with Japan's Kishida amid N. Korea missile launches

Diplomacy 10:18 October 06, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with Yoon's remarks, background in paras 5-8)
By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol is set to speak by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday following a series of North Korean missile launches, including one that flew over Japan.

The daring launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) Tuesday was the biggest provocation by North Korea in years and sent the Japanese people scrambling to evacuate while suspending train operations in some areas.

On Thursday morning, the North fired two more short-range missiles into the East Sea.

"Prime Minister Kishida made some remarks at the Japanese parliament yesterday that were quite forward-looking," Yoon told reporters Thursday, saying Kishida noted the need to quickly normalize relations between South Korea and Japan and called South Korea an important neighbor that should tackle various global issues together.

"I expect us to talk about something related to that, and especially about security issues as Japan was apparently in a panic because of the IRBM that flew over the Japanese archipelago the day before yesterday," he said.

The launches are in apparent protest of recent military exercises involving South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, including the redeployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to South Korean waters the previous day.

The North's foreign ministry condemned the redeployment Thursday, saying the North is "watching the U.S. posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula."

Yoon and Kishida are expected to coordinate the two countries' response to the North's provocations and discuss ways to strengthen trilateral cooperation with the United States.

The two held their first one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month, sharing "serious concern" about North Korea's nuclear program, including the possibility of a seventh nuclear test and its recent adoption of a law mandating the use of nuclear weapons in scenarios where its leadership is under threat.

Yoon and Kishida also agreed on the need to improve relations between the two countries by resolving pending issues, the presidential office said.

The two countries have been locked in a protracted row over wartime forced labor and other issues related to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pose for a photo prior to their talks in New York, in this file photo taken Sept. 21, 2022, as they meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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