South Korea’s Yoon Arrives in Japan Hours After North Fires ICBM.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in Tokyo for a visit to repair ties with Japan and bolster security cooperation with their mutual US ally, hours after North Korea test-fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch of a long-range ballistic missile took place at around at 7:10 a.m. Thursday from an area near Pyongyang’s main international airport, where North Korea has a facility to launch ICBMs designed to carry a warhead to the US. Japan’s national broadcaster NHK said the government had determined it was likely an ICBM. 
The missile reached an altitude of about 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) and traveled a distance of about 1,000 kms on a flight that lasted some 70 minutes before landing outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo said
This would be consistent with similar ICBM tests where it launched a missile on a lofted trajectory. North Korea last test-fired an ICBM about a month ago that flew for about 66 minutes and reached an altitude of about 5,700 kms (3,540 miles) and a distance of about 900 kms.
The ICBM on Thursday caps a busy few weeks for North Korea, which had shot off 11 ballistic missiles since Feb. 18 that included the other ICBM and what appeared to be a new close-range ballistic missile designed to hit US bases in South Korea. It also fired two cruise missiles from a submarine, which appeared to be another first.
This was the third ICBM North Korea has fired since November, when Kim brought his preteen daughter to the launch for her debut in state media. Her appearance signaled there is another generation waiting in the family dynasty forged in the Cold War and it will depend on nuclear weapons for its survival.
Yoon’s visit follows a proposal to end several years of feuding over compensation for Japan’s use of Korean forced labor during its 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula. It’s the first visit by a South Korean leader since 2019, and will include a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the first such summit on Japanese soil in more than a decade. 
Yoon and Kishida will talk over a proposal in which certain South Korean firms would pay into a fund offering compensation for Koreans conscripted to work at Japanese mines and factories during the colonial period. The payments are meant to avoid forcing Japanese companies to pay compensation, in line with Tokyo’s contention that all such claims were settled under a 1965 agreement. 
Japan and South Korea
The two allies of the US stare down threats posed by North Korea
In turn, Japan has indicated it could roll back export controls that came into effect a few years ago as the feud flared, which could help secure supplies of crucial materials for South Korea’s chipmakers. Business federations from the two sides are also set to meet on Friday to discuss co-funding a future-orientated foundation as part of reconciliation efforts, the JoongAng Ilbo reported. 
President Joe Biden’s administration welcomed the rapprochement, calling it a “groundbreaking” deal. Yoon said it was in the interests of both countries to “end the vicious cycle of mutual hostility and work together.”
The forced-labor deal could open new areas of cooperation among the three sides, beyond mending an intelligence-sharing pact that nearly unraveled at the height of the recent feuding. While Yoon had stepped up security cooperation with Washington and Tokyo, including three-way drills in international waters off the Korean Peninsula, deeper ties were difficult as long as South Korea was expecting Japanese companies to pay victims. 
“This is a piece of a larger strategy built on what allies and alliances do together and one of President Biden’s signature accomplishments both in the trans-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific is the energy behind allies and alliances,” US envoy to Tokyo Rahm Emanuel told Bloomberg. 
North Korea regards Japan, South Korea and the US as its mortal enemies, and Kim has been bolstering his state’s ability to deliver a nuclear strike that could hit the neighbors and deliver a warhead to the American mainland.
Yoon said in a joint interview with international media ahead of the trip the current North Korean nuclear situation is different from the past, and threatens peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. He said cooperation among his country, Japan and the US was more important than ever, and Seoul will continue to press Kim to abandon his atomic ambitions. Yoon also said the US was not a part of the deal to remedy the forced labor issue.
“Since the complete denuclearization of North Korea is the clear and unchanging goal of the international community, the Republic of Korea will never acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear state under any circumstances,” Yoon said, referring to his country by its formal name.
The latest launch also coincided with joint US-South Korean military drills starting this week that have been denounced by Pyongyang. 
On Monday, the US and South Korea commenced 11 days of Freedom Shield military exercises, which are among the most significant drills between the two allies in years. The exercises are aimed at strengthening their defense capabilities against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. 
North Korea has condemned such drills, considering them a prelude to a potential invasion and nuclear war. Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of the leader, threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into a “firing range” if the US continued with drills.

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