South Korea, Japan to cooperate on North Korea despite friction

March 30 (UPI) — South Korea and Japan are coordinating on North Korea following a surprise summit between Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Seoul and Tokyo, often at odds over historical issues and an agreement over wartime “comfort women” signed in 2015, have proposed a trilateral summit with China, South Korean news service News 1 reported Friday.

The proposal was made during a phone call between South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, when Kang briefed Kono on the results of a high-level inter-Korea talk held at Panmunjom on Thursday.

“It is important for [South Korea and Japan] to cooperate in order to hold a successful summit,” Kang said, referring to the upcoming meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader.

The offer from South Korea may be a welcome move for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a relatively late adopter of engagement with North Korea.

Japan, formerly an engagement skeptic, may have agreed to an early June summit between Abe and Kim, according to the Asahi Shimbun on Thursday.

The Japan-North Korea summit, if held, would come after talks between Kim and Moon, and between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Yonhap news agency reported Friday the foreign ministers’ phone call did not solely focus on North Korea.

Kang told Kono that Seoul protests Japan’s territorial claims to the islets of Dokdo, also known as Takeshima.

The statement was recently added to Japanese school textbooks, according to the report.