03/21/2015, 00.00
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After three year gap Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing restart talks

The foreign ministers of the three countries met today in the South Korean capital to restore the annual trilateral summit. The summit has not taken place since 2012, after Japan’s missteps on unresolved issues dating back to the war and disputes in the East China Sea with China.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China have held their first meeting in three years today in Seoul, in an attempt to ease tension regarding territorial and diplomatic disputes, and restore the annual trilateral summit. The last was held in April 2012.

The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss a possible participation of Tokyo and Seoul in the development bank led by Beijing (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB), and South Korea's hosting of a US air defense system to counter the North Korea missile threat (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, Thaad).

Despite the assurance of Seoul and Washington, Beijing is suspicious of Thaad, considering it a threat to its security.

In 2013, the trilateral summit was canceled after yet another visit by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni national shrine, where - among the 2.5 million dead of the Second World War - 14 war criminals are remembered. An affront to China and Korea, which were occupied by Japan in the years before the conflict.

Added to this "error" is the traditional dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by both China and Japan. The archipelago has a particular strategic value, as it is located on most important shipping route. For some, however, its real "treasure" is the endless gas fields in the subsoil.

Japan also contends a small group of islands with South Korea: they are the Dodko/Takeshima, almost equidistant from the two nations, but the sea around them is rich in fish.

In an 90 minute meeting that preceded the trilateral summit, Japan and South Korea agreed to work to reduce the tensions triggered by historical issues dating to wartime. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. "Despite difficult issues between the two countries - told Japanese Minister Fumio Kishida the press - the two sides will continue communicating at various levels in order to strengthen our co-operation."


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