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South Korea, Japan set to mend fences, strengthen cooperation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (fourth right) receives a letter from Chung Jin-suk, deputy speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly and head of a delegation sent by South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol to Japan, at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Tuesday. JAPAN’S CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE VIA JIJI PRESS/AFP

South Korea, Japan set to mend fences, strengthen cooperation

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s delegation to Japan met with key figures, including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, on Monday and agreed to improve Korea-Japan relations -- the state of which is considered to be at its worst since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965.

After meeting with Foreign Minister Hayashi in the morning, Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the People Power Party, who led the seven-member delegation, told reporters, “The two countries agreed to maintain and strengthen cooperative relations as good neighbors who share liberal democracy, market economy values and future tasks.”

He said they talked about making efforts to “reach a desirable conclusion” through sincere dialogue on pending issues, apparently referring to forced labor and comfort women victims.

But he added this visit is not intended to “specifically negotiate” current issues and the matter should reach a conclusion “through dense dialogue and negotiation” via official diplomatic channels.

Prior to the meeting, the delegation held a breakfast meeting with the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union and met with Toshihiro Nikai, former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party.

In the meetings with the union attended by 10 Japanese politicians, including Chairman Fukushiro Nukaga and Secretary-General Ryota Takeda, and also Nikai, both sides agreed on the need to improve Korea-Japan relations, Chung told reporters after the meeting.

In the afternoon, the delegation met with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda and Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi. They had a dinner meeting with Foreign Minister Hayashi.

The Korean representatives are reportedly scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday and deliver a letter from Yoon Suk-yeol. They may discuss whether Kishida will attend the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon.

Regarding whether Kishida would attend the ceremony, Rep. Chung said the attendance of a head of state is not a matter involving a simple invitation, but a decision to be made by the country. “If he comes, we are ready to serve him with all our sincerity.”

Foreign Minister nominee Park Jin also said Monday that he would “welcome” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s attendance at the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon on May 10.

But, he added, “I haven’t heard anything yet. It is for Japan to decide.”

Before leaving for Japan, Rep. Chung told reporters that he is going to Japan with the Yoon administration’s new Korea-Japan relationship as the top priority.

“With the goal of building cooperative relations for the common good of both countries, we would like to have a serious and dense dialogue on mutual interests,” he said.

THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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