South Korea, Japan, and the United States to Hold Vice Ministerial Meetings

The United States, South Korea, and Japan will have a vice foreign ministerial meeting later this week in Virginia, as confirmed by the State Department on Monday, May 27th, to discuss critical fields of technology, economic cooperation and security, and threats from North Korea.

Deputy Director of State Kurt Campbell will meet with his foreign counterparts, Vice Foreign of Japan Minister Masataka Okano and South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-Kyun, on Friday, May 31st, in Little Washington, Virginia.

Before all three meet and speak, Campbell will meet with Kim on Friday morning to discuss stability in the Indo-Pacific region and meet with Okano to attend the U.S.-Japan Strategic Diplomacy and Development Dialogue later that day.

This meeting follows a trilateral summit involving South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, United States President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Camp David in August 2023. The meeting also comes after another between Kishida, Yoon, and Chinese Premier Li Qiang that happened on Monday, May 27th.

The State Department described this meeting as a “key deliverable” from the August 2023 summit.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun talks to the press as he arrives at Dulles International Airport, located near Washington. Source: Yonhap News

Topics for Discussion

This trilateral meeting will happen amid the failed North Korean satellite launch on Monday, May 27th, which Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington have expressed concern over, as well as accusations of violating U.N. sanctions.

“This dialogue will focus on utilizing our collective capacity to strengthen cooperation on economic security, critical and emerging technologies, and maritime security, as well as a range of regional and global challenges, including the threats posed by the DPRK to regional and global peace and security,” the State Department said regarding the outcome of the meeting.

First South Korean Vice Foreign Minister, Chang Ho-jin (left), stands next to Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Masataka Okano during a speech in 2023. Source: Yonhap News

The leaders will also discuss additional topics for discussion, including humanitarian aid for people in Gaza, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and maintaining peace and stability within the Taiwan Strait.

Analysis

This meeting could have a few impacts, such as closer relations with the countries that met, changes to sanctions, laws, or guidelines, and the possibility of more stabilization within the Indo-Pacific region. Meaningful change may mean more cooperation between nations and better awareness of important issues, such as regional issues in the Taiwan Strait.

The current sanctions placed on North Korea could be strengthened or revised to crack down on North Korean nuclear and other weapons developments, along with their satellite program. North Korea plans to launch at least three more satellites. Tightening sanctions may cause North Korea to react through non-aggressive means.

The meeting may also further increase relations between South Korea and Japan, as their relationship is often tumultuous due to the Japanese Empire’s rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 until 1945.

Evan Berridge
Evan Berridge
Evan is an analyst specializing in Indo-Pacific affairs and has over 5 years of experience as a freelance writer.

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