Kishida Mulls South Korea Visit

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering visiting South Korea as early as this summer, following a visit to Japan by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol this week, it was learned Wednesday.

Kishida’s possible visit would come under a scheme between the two countries, in which Kishida and Yoon are expected to agree to resume at their summit in Tokyo on Thursday.

The two leaders are believed to find it necessary to strengthen Japan-South Korea cooperation in the face of China’s military intimidation and North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches.

According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Kishida is likely to visit South Korea after the ongoing ordinary session of the Diet, which ends on June 21 unless the session is extended, and by August.

The shuttle diplomacy scheme has been suspended since then Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met in the western Japan city of Kyoto in December 2011.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that South Korea is an important neighbor that Japan should work with to tackle various challenges in the international community.

“We expect candid talks between the leaders to further develop bilateral relations based on the friendship [the two countries have enjoyed] since the normalization of our diplomatic relations,” the top Japanese government spokesman said.

At Thursday’s summit, Yoon is slated to directly explain to Kishida his administration’s plan to resolve the wartime labor issue between the two countries, and Kishida is expected to appreciate the resolution plan.

After the summit, the two leaders will hold a joint press conference and have a dinner meeting, hoping to deepen their personal ties.

Kishida is also considering inviting Yoon to a Group of Seven summit in May in Hiroshima, which includes his constituency.