Special Forum

President Moon Jae-in and his new government, launched immediately after the election results on May 9, 2017, is taking a “two-track” strategy towards Japan. For example, Moon Hee-sang, deputy chair of the National Assembly and former chair of the Japan-South Korea Dietmen’s League, who headed the special envoy team to Japan, mentioned on his way back home that the “comfort woman” issue, though very important, would not jeopardize the importance of the South Korea-Japan relationship in general. The “two-track” approach means that the administration will separate its handling of the “comfort woman” and other history-related issues from non-history matters such as economic and security issues. The general response to this policy seems to be positive, especially from experts on South Korea-Japan relations, mostly because it is a more realistic stance for making progress on the “comfort woman” issue than to renegotiate it entirely, which was stressed by Moon as a candidate and by other candidates during the election campaign. The “two-track” approach improves the prospects for finding common ground with Japan on some of South Korea’s high priority national interests.

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