On February 3, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon, who is currently touring Japan, gave a special lecture to some 300 students and citizens at Waseda University. Under the theme ‘Seoul’s New Communication-Based Administration and City Diplomacy,’ the lecture lasted fifty minutes along with a forty minute Q&A session.
During the lecture, Park stated that an aging society, low birth rate, youth unemployment, and city regeneration are pending issues with which both South Korea and Japan are grappling and should be overcome together; thus, if South Korea and Japan, with their many commonalities, cooperate and seek a consensus with an open mind, a whole new history and future will be guaranteed: the starting point of which will be city diplomacy.
Regarding the relations between South Korea and Japan, Park stressed the importance of reflecting on the past, facing the present, and stepping towards the future, and introduced the cases involving the actions taken by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Union (EU), and the compensation and healing process for the victims of WWII led by a German foundation, Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future. He emphasized that it was essential that the two nations marched as one towards a brighter future, on the basis of sincere introspection, self-reflection, and reconciliation.
Furthermore, he suggested establishing a ‘New BeSeTo’ framework by forging consultative ties among Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing, and claimed that such a consultative framework might lead to lasting peace and co-prosperity in East Asia, as well as tackling issues unsolved by the government from a city level.
Park also shared his past experience as a human rights lawyer and a civic activist, as well as his current initiatives based on communication, such as communication-based administration and citizen engagement.
Prior to the lecture, Park met with Korean faculty members and students in Waseda University and discussed ways to exchange academic knowledge between Waseda University and the University of Seoul, with Kaoru Kamata, President of Waseda University.