S. Korean president determined to improve soured ties with Japan

Courtesy of the Cabinet Public Affairs Office
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, left, shakes hand with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in New York City on Wednesday.

SEOUL (Jiji Press) — South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday stressed his determination to improve soured relations with Japan.

Following his talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the fringe of a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York last week, Yoon told reporters that he will strongly promote efforts to bring the bilateral relations back to a normal state whatever challenges there may be going forward.

Noting that businesses in the two nations seriously want to see the bilateral ties get back to normal, Yoon said that improvement in the relations will lead South Korean and Japanese companies to invest in each other’s nations, which will increase jobs in both countries and spur economic growth.

At the same time, the South Korean leader suggested his intention to make efforts to win public support at home toward resolving pending bilateral issues including one related to Koreans who were requisitioned to work for Japanese firms during World War II.

A single round of bilateral talks alone will not bring about satisfactory results and it is important to work on getting the South Korea-Japan relations back to normal while carefully assessing the thoughts of people in the two countries, he said.

Separately, Chung Jin-suk, head of a league of South Korean lawmakers promoting ties with Japan, told reporters Monday that it is necessary to pursue a two-track approach of increasing exchanges between South Korea and Japan, which is sought by young generations, and trying to resolve difficult historical issues between the two countries.

Chung made the remarks ahead of his departure to Japan to attend Tuesday’s state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in relation to the Japanese government’s plans to reopen its borders to individual travelers and short-stay visitors without visas from abroad as part of the easing of its measures against COVID-19.