Japan, the United States and South Korea have confirmed they are working closely on global issues, including North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. But a planned joint press conference was called off due to a territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea.
Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Mori Takeo, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and South Korean First Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun met in Washington on Wednesday.
Sherman told reporters after the trilateral meeting that there are “bilateral differences” between Japan and South Korea.
South Korea’s National Police Chief Kim Chang-yong landed on the Takeshima Islands in Shimane Prefecture, Japan on Tuesday.
South Korea controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains that the islands are an integral part of Japanese territory. He says South Korea is illegally occupying them.
Sources from Japan’s Foreign Ministry said it would have been inappropriate for the Deputy Foreign Minister to attend a joint press conference.
The sources said Mori separately met with Choi and lodged a protest saying his country could not tolerate the visit.
Sources from South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Choi explained that his country could not agree to any of Japan’s claims.
The frosty bilateral relations have cast a shadow over the close cooperation between the three countries sought by the United States.