Tokyo, Seoul agree to deepen exchanges, improve relations

Tokyo, Mar 17 (EFE).- South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol met Friday in Tokyo with Yoshihide Suga, former Japanese Prime Minister and future leader of a multidisciplinary group, to promote ties between the countries, agreeing to deepen bilateral exchanges and improve relations.

“I would like to continue working to solve problems in various fields through frank discussions and diplomacy,” Yoon said during the meeting, according to statements collected by the Japanese state channel NHK.

Suga said the summit held between the leaders of both countries “has taken a good direction for relations between Japan and South Korea” so both nations “can work together.”

“With North Korea’s missile launch, it is important that Japan and South Korea, along with the United States, work firmly together, and this diplomatic summit has taken a good direction that may change public sentiment in the South,” Suga added.

The statements come a day after Yoon met with Japanese counterpart Kishida, at the first bilateral summit in the archipelago in 12 years, in which they opted to strengthen ties against Pyongyang’s arms advances.

Kishida and Yoon pledged at the meeting to strengthen bilateral security cooperation and together with the US, to deal with developments in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“President Yoon’s visit and the summit between the two is a great step for the normalization of bilateral relations. It has been possible to take place after 12 years and thanks to personal trust, itinerant diplomacy has resumed,” Government Spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday.

Itinerant diplomacy refers to that carried out with periodic meetings between government representatives at various levels to lay the foundations to solve a common problem. In this case they touched on the strife between Japan and South Korea during the Japanese colonial period of the peninsula, which has been weighing down their relations in recent years.

Asked about a possible invitation from Yoon to the G7 summit to be held in Hiroshima in western Japan in May, Matsuno said “it is still being studied and it has not been decided which countries will be invited.”

In addition to the meeting with Suga, Yoon also had a meeting Friday with Taro Aso, also a former prime minister and vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan-Korea Cooperation Committee, comprising Japanese parliamentarians and business leaders from South Korea.

After these meetings, the South Korean president plans to meet with businessmen from both countries and give a lecture at Tokyo’s Keio University to students of Japanese and Korean Studies, after which he will return to Seoul after a two-day visit.

Ties between Japan and South Korea hit their lowest point in decades under the previous government of liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but relations are expected to improve under the Yoon administration, which has said the two countries are able to resolve “past and future issues.” EFE


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