Building trust: Japan and South Korea to mend ties at G-7

Amid the high-level efforts to deal with a raft of global emergencies, this weekend’s Group of 7 summit of rich democracies will also see an unusual diplomatic reconciliation as the leaders of Japan and South Korea look to continue mending ties that have been marked for years by animosity and bickering.

At first glance, the two neighbors would seem to be natural partners. They are powerful, advanced democracies and staunch U.S. allies in a region beset with autocratic threats. The continuing fallout, however, from centuries of complicated, acrimonious history, culminating in the brutal 1910-1945 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula, has resulted in more wariness than friendship.

A big part of the sudden recent shift in tone is a shared focus on China’s growing aggressiveness, the threat of North Korea’s fast-improving arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles – and deep worry about how Russia’s war in Ukraine is influencing both issues. Some diplomatic nudging by Washington, which provides military protection for both its allies and wants them to counter China’s rising global influence, has also helped.

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