Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is reaching out to his counterparts in Tokyo and Beijing to improve relations between the three countries by collaborating on the common problem of PM 2.5 air pollutants and bolstering exchanges.
“Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul are the key cities in the northeastern Asia region,” Park said at a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun. “How the three capitals will collaborate will influence the diplomacy of the countries.”
He said he has proposed a meeting with Tokyo and Beijing to work together to tackle the worsening air pollution by PM 2.5 particles that has choked the capitals of South Korea and China. Park said he wants to hold a meeting in May.
PM 2.5 denotes particulate matter of up to 2.5 micrometers in size, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and blood vessels and raise the risk of asthma and heart disease. The pollutants, carried by winds from China, also darken the skies of Tokyo and many other Japanese cities.
Park also said he intends to invite Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, who was elected in February, to Seoul as part of efforts to improve relations between Japan and South Korea.
Japan’s ties with South Korea and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years over differing perceptions of history and territorial disputes.
Referring to the European Community, which was established after World War II and grew into today’s EU, Park stressed the importance of the three cities building a pathway toward co-prosperity.
“The three nations should open a new era of a prosperous Asia,” he said. “I want to create a relationship in which the cities will be able to thrive through the expansion of exchanges.”
Park, a former lawyer who has long been involved in civic activities, was elected as Seoul mayor in 2011 for the first time.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, he pushed for energy conservation and the promotion of renewable energy sources to reduce South Korea’s dependence on nuclear energy.