"We have made a lot of efforts to stabilize the relationship between Korea and Japan, but unfortunately, during the past few months, some Japanese political leaders have made a lot of historically incorrect remarks," Yun said. "And so these revisionist remarks, as long as they last, it will (make it) difficult to build trust between our countries. These leaders must look at history as it is and they must be sincere."
Kerry was in Seoul on the first leg of an Asian tour that will take him next to China and then to Indonesia. He is making the trip, his fifth to Asia in the past year, to demonstrate the Obama administration's commitment to its stated priority of "rebalancing" U.S. foreign policy to Asia. He arrived in South Korea just hours after the White House announced that President Barack Obama would visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in the spring.
Much of the region is preoccupied by increasing assertiveness from China over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.
In China, Kerry will raise longstanding U.S. concerns about Chinese behavior, according to officials traveling with him.
"It is unwise in the extreme for China to take actions that are destructive of stability on the region," said one official traveling with Kerry.
U.S. diplomats have cited a litany of actions that China has taken recently that affect what they say is American national interest in freedom of navigation and maritime safety in the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea that are dotted with reefs and islands subject to multiple disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Those have included restricting access to a contested reef and imposing fishing regulations in disputed waters. The U.S. has also warned China that it should not declare an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, over any part of the South China Sea.
A declared Chinese ADIZ over contested areas in the East China Sea has already drawn harsh criticism from the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. has been urging China and the Association of South East Asian Nations to agree to a binding code of conduct for behavior in the South China Sea for years.
China has been reluctant to negotiate with ASEAN as a whole, preferring to deal with nations bilaterally and has fiercely rejected U.S. allegations that it is using vague territorial claims to gradually assert control over the disputed areas. On Saturday, China's foreign ministry said in a statement that some U.S. officials' remarks were not constructive and opined that "playing up tensions" was not conducive to maintaining peace and stability.
After visiting Beijing, Kerry will raise the code of conduct issue again in Indonesia when he meets with the ASEAN secretary general at the bloc's headquarters in Jakarta.
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