Since the beginning of the year, Japan’s official relations with the Korean Peninsula have gone from bad to worse.With South Korea, the past continues to plague the bilateral relationship.[...] Only last month did Tokyo return the Japanese ambassador to Seoul after he was withdrawn in January to protest a comfort women statue in Busan. [...] Yet one option to repair relations with South Korea, and perhaps even make some headway with North Korea, seems obvious if you are in Kansai: Use Japan’s Korean community as an unofficial diplomatic channel of communication.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a special envoy of new South Korean President Moon Jae In agreed Thursday to resume "shuttle diplomacy" between the two leaders, according to the envoy. The shuttle diplomacy, which sees the leaders visit each other's countries roughly every year, has been suspended since December 2011 under the administration of then President Lee Myung Bak.The two leaders could hold their first face-to-face talks in July on the margins of a summit of Group of 20 major economies in Germany.
South Korea and the US’s tentative agreement to hold a summit in Washington as early as the end of June appears to mean that both sides recognize the need to fill the gap in summit diplomacy, created by the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye, as soon as possible. At the same time, the Blue House also seems determined to quickly dispel US concerns about South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in.
Speaking during his formal oath-taking ceremony on Wednesday, Moon pledged to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula amid growing worry over the North's expanding nuclear weapons and missiles programme. "I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula," Moon said. "If needed, I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang."
Concerns are growing the diplomatic strains may spill over into sociocultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries despite their deepening economic interdependence. [...] But in the eyes of Park Euna, ambassador for public diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry, now is time for Seoul to step up efforts to reach out to citizens of not only China but other countries around the world, helping promote their understanding of and eventually reach its foreign policy goals.
Clingendael's Jan Melissen and Emillie de Keulenaar on the urgency of going digital.
President Trump must avoid at all costs a direct military confrontation with North Korea, which has a long history of engaging in brinksmanship. The United States has been successful in defusing past crises by working in partnership with U.S. allies in the region. Today, China calls for restraint, and South Korea is urging a diplomatic solution. [...] President Trump could demonstrate his art of deal making by advancing the only solution that’s ever worked: diplomacy and engagement.