Japan PM Kishida, South Korean President meet at UN

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Japan PM Kishida, South Korean President meet at UN

This seating arrangement was made for the Sept. 21 meeting of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in New York. Keishi Nishimura NEW YORK Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol showed different attitudes and interest in the first meeting between the two leaders on Sept. 21 that didn't break new ground.

Kishida had even considered not meeting Yoon after South Korea made a unilateral announcement that one would be held.

The South Korean president talked at length to prolong the session, even though Kishida showed little enthusiasm for what was being discussed.

On Sept. 15th, South Korea announced that an agreement had been reached on holding a meeting between Kishida and Yoon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

According to those close to the prime minister, he was incensed by the report and told associates that they should not say anything about what has not been decided. A Kishida associate said that the prime minister was angry because he said he would not meet Yoon.

A high-ranking official in the prime minister's office said, At a time when gradual steps have to be taken to restore trust, we could not understand what their intent was. The South Korean side repeatedly asked for a meeting and left the time and location up to Tokyo, according to sources. A room in the building where the Japanese delegation is headquartered was chosen for the meeting.

The prime minister showed little interest in the sit-down session, according to those who sat in the Kishida-Yoon meeting. He barely spoke, so it was up to Yoon to continue speaking to prolong the meeting so that it would not end in a matter of minutes.

The lawsuits against Japanese companies filed by wartime Korean laborers are the biggest concern for Japan. No progress was made in resolving the issue during the 30 minute session on Sept. 21.

One Japanese official who sat in the meeting said, Because they said they wanted a meeting even with little prospect of a specific result, we agreed to a meeting that we did not have to attend. South Korea owes Japan so they will have to produce something for the next meeting. Japan agreed to the meeting because officials felt Seoul was serious about improving relations.

Kishida told associates they were willing to resolve the issues after meeting Yoon. We will have to see what they can come up with in the future.