TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in (文在寅) on Thursday (Aug. 15) talked about cooperation with Japan as well as a goal of Korean unification by 2045 in a speech that marked the 74th anniversary of the Korean liberation.
Moon repeatedly emphasized the importance of cooperation, prosperity, and peace in East Asia in the half-hour speech. He called on Japan to “play a leading role in facilitating peace and prosperity in East Asia while it contemplates a past that brought misfortune to its neighboring countries."
"Better late than never,” Moon said. “If Japan chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, South Korea will gladly join hands."
However, Moon also added that Japan should give up using trade as a weapon. “If any country weaponizes a sector where it has a comparative advantage, the peaceful free trade order will inevitably suffer damage."
Japan recently removed South Korea from its white list of favored trade partner countries, and South Korea did the same soon after in retaliation. The quarrel between the two countries stemmed from a South Korean Supreme Court ruling that ordered Japanese companies to provide compensation for Japan's use of forced labor during World War II -- a ruling the Japanese government insists is invalid according to an accord on the claim rights of wartime wrongdoings signed by both countries in 1965.
Moon also talked about his long-term goals for the nation. He said that Korea has yet to become a nation that “cannot be shaken up by external pressure” because it “lacks sufficient strength and remains divided.”
Moon described the third summit between Pyongyang and Washington as “the most critical juncture” for the process of denuclearization and peace in the Korean Peninsula. He called for both North Korea and the U.S. to resume working-level negotiations as early as possible.
The South Korean president said he envisioned Seoul and Pyongyang jointly hosting the 2032 Olympics and achieving unification by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the peninsula's liberation from Japan. "A new Korean Peninsula, one that will bring peace and prosperity, awaits us," Moon said.