Leaders of South Korea and Japan

President Yoon Suk Yeol and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
montage of 2 photos of Ambassador Caroline Kennedy presenting the Profile in Courage Award lantern to the leaders of the Republic of Korea and Japan

On August 18, 2023, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida joined President Joseph R. Biden at Camp David to solidify a historic level of trilateral cooperation between the US and two of its most important democratic allies. This moment was possible because the leaders of South Korea and Japan have courageously worked to address sensitive historical issues that have prevented close cooperation.

Despite strong opposition in South Korea, President Yoon began working toward rapprochement with Japan shortly after his election in March 2022. Since then, the two leaders have built a strong personal relationship allowing them to resolve difficult historical issues. In March 2023, President Yoon made a bilateral visit to Tokyo, the first by a South Korean leader in 12 years. Two months later, Prime Minister Kishida became the first Japanese Prime Minister in 12 years to make a bilateral visit to South Korea, and in May, he welcomed President Yoon to the G7 meetings hosted by Japan in Hiroshima.

Both leaders chose a more hopeful future for their countries as opposed to being held captive by the past. The August meeting at Camp David affirmed the progress made between two of America’s closest allies and set the stage for increasing trilateral cooperation with the United States.

The Profile in Courage Award for the Leaders of South Korea and Japan was one of two awards presented at the 2023 Profile in Courage Award ceremony. Learn about the other honorees, South Carolina State Senators.

On Sunday, October 29, 2023, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her children, Jack Schlossberg and Tatiana Schlossberg, members of the Profile in Courage Award Committee, presented the awards in a live-streamed ceremony. Watch the ceremony.