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a welcome thaw
Japanese, South Korean Leaders Back on Speaking Terms

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye will meet at a summit with President Obama, after months of escalating tension between their two countries.   They will discuss the worsening security situation in the region, as the WSJ reports:

“We decided to participate in the trilateral meeting organized by the U.S. because we judged it’s timely and appropriate to discuss issues of mutual concern, including North Korea,” the [South Korean] ministry said….

Japan’s foreign ministry confirmed the meeting in a statement that said: “The three leaders are expected to discuss nuclear non-proliferation as well as North Korea’s nuclear issue.”

This is a welcome change from the intensifying antipathy surrounding Japan’s decision to revise its official position on South Korean comfort women, South Korea’s decision to honor the assassin who killed a Japanese official, and rising xenophobia on both sides. Less than six months ago, President Park refused to meet with Abe outright. Neither leader is likely to bring up these contentious issues at the upcoming summit, but at least they’re talking again. For two key American allies in a region that is still one of the world’s most volatile, this is good to see.

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