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(LEAD) Yoon calls Japan 'partner' in tackling security, economic challenges

All News 11:32 March 01, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more remarks by Yoon, background; ADDS photo)
By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday called Japan a "partner" in tackling security and economic challenges as he marked the anniversary of the nation's 1919 independence movement against Japanese colonial rule.

Yoon made the remark in his first address marking the March 1 Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun, named after the national hero who died in prison at age 17 after taking an active part in the movement for independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

"Now, a century after the March 1 Independence Movement, Japan has transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner that shares the same universal values with us," Yoon said.

"Today Korea and Japan cooperate on issues of security and economy. We also work together to cope with global challenges."

President Yoon Suk Yeol gives a speech marking the 104th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Seoul on March 1, 2023. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol gives a speech marking the 104th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Seoul on March 1, 2023. (Yonhap)

Yoon's speech came as Seoul and Tokyo have been negotiating a solution to the issue of compensation for Korean victims of Japanese forced labor during World War II. The issue has long been a thorn in bilateral relations and Yoon has sought to resolve the dispute, including through several meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

In his speech, Yoon emphasized the importance of trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan.

Under Yoon, the three countries have resumed various trilateral activities in an effort to jointly tackle the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"The trilateral cooperation among the Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan has become more important than ever to overcome the security crises, including North Korea's growing nuclear threats and the global polycrisis," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

Yoon also warned the nation against repeating the mistakes of the past, saying the loss of sovereignty to Japan was a result of its failure to properly prepare for a changing world.

"We must gather our wisdom to seek ways to overcome the crises facing us: the global polycrisis, North Korea's nuclear threats and severe security environment, and an increasingly fragmented and polarized society," he said.

"If we fail to read the changing trends of world history and do not properly prepare for the future, it is evident that the misfortunes of the past will be repeated," he added.

Yoon called for remembering the country's history, saying "whether glorious or shameful," it must be remembered "to protect our future and to prepare for the decades to come."

He especially called for remembering the patriotic martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country's freedom and independence, saying a failure to do so will leave the nation with no future.

Yoon also called for standing in solidarity with countries that share the same universal values in order to contribute to promoting the freedom of global citizens and the common prosperity of all humankind.

"The prosperity that we enjoy today is the result of our ceaseless efforts to defend and expand our freedom, as well as our enduring belief in universal values," he said. "We must never stop making such an effort."

President Yoon Suk Yeol (C) and first lady Kim Keon Hee (3rd from R) sing the national anthem during a ceremony marking the 104th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Seoul on March 1, 2023. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol (C) and first lady Kim Keon Hee (3rd from R) sing the national anthem during a ceremony marking the 104th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Seoul on March 1, 2023. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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