Korea-Japan relations head to lowest ebb

Korea-Japan relations head to lowest ebb

The relations between Korea and Japan are heading toward their lowest ebb as Seoul hardens its stance following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial war shrine last week.

Fresh momentum for bilateral security cooperation following Beijing's unilateral demarcation of an air defence zone in November dissipated after Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals, in Tokyo on Thursday.

The prospect of improvement in the bilateral ties next year remains bleak as Tokyo is expected to step up its territorial claim to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo and continue to whitewash its colonial wrongdoings.

Amid deteriorating public sentiment, Seoul has reportedly cancelled planned talks with Tokyo on ways to bolster bilateral exchanges between policy divisions of the two countries' defence ministries.

Japanese Vice Defence Minister Masanori Nishi is said to have proposed signing an agreement with Seoul over increasing bilateral cooperation between the policy divisions during his talks with his South Korean counterpart Baek Seung-joo in November.

Since the security hawk Abe returned to the premiership in December 2012, he and his Cabinet members have made remarks that highlighted their lack of atonement for the country's wartime atrocities, including sexual enslavement of Asian women.

Aware of public outrage here, President Park Geun-hye has refused to accept Japan's proposal for a summit, even though she has held talks with the leaders of the United States, China and other neighbouring countries.

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