South Korea, Japan, U.S. diplomats meet amid North Korea nuclear test fears

Senior diplomats from South Korea, Japan and the United States met Friday in a bid to bolster trilateral cooperation, following Pyongyang’s repeated ballistic missile launches and amid growing concerns over a possible North Korean nuclear test.

Kim Gunn, the South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held the first such in-person trilateral talks with his Japanese and U.S. counterparts, since Yoon Suk Yeol assumed office as South Korea’s president last month.

The meeting was attended by Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korean affairs, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

North Korea has conducted 15 rounds of ballistic missile tests since the start of the year, the latest of which took place on May 25, the day after U.S. President Joe Biden wrapped up his visit to South Korea and Japan.

South Korea, Japan and the United States remain on alert for further provocations. Concerns are growing that North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

Friday’s meeting also came at a time when Japan and South Korea are working to improve bilateral ties, which sank to their lowest level in decades under Yoon’s predecessor Moon Jae In.

Seoul and Tokyo have been at odds over a number of issues stemming from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula such as the wartime labor of Koreans and Koreans forced to work as “comfort women” in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

There have been recent signs of improvement, with Yoon calling for a future-oriented approach in bilateral relations.


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