Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu on Thursday promised a new era of partnership with Seoul--and improved legal rights for Koreans living in Japan--at the end of two days of talks with Korean officials.
In his first visit here since becoming prime minister in 1989, Kaifu said his talks with President Roh Tae Woo had laid the basis for a “future-oriented, friendly relationship” between the nations, whose relations are still strained by the memory of more than 30 years of brutal Japanese rule.
Kaifu delivered a gift before returning home later Thursday: a decision to abolish by 1992 a controversial system requiring foreign nationals, many of them Koreans, to be fingerprinted for registration.
In an accord signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers, Japan agreed also that third-generation Koreans and their offspring will automatically receive a right to permanent residence and that only extremely serious crimes will lead to deportation.
The current law, which has been a sore point in relations, symbolizes to many of Japan’s 680,000 Koreans what they feel is their second-class status in Japanese eyes. Many Korean residents are descendants of forced laborers taken to Japan when it ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.