Monday, 5 June, 2023

Kishida vows to boost trust with Yoon to open new era with S Korea

SEOUL: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday expressed eagerness to build greater trust with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to open a new era in bilateral relations, after they talked in Seoul the previous day, reports Kyodo News.

Following his meeting with South Korean business leaders, Kishida, who made a two-day trip to Seoul, told reporters that Japan is willing to boost people-to-people exchanges with its neighbor to deepen mutual understanding and develop bilateral ties.

He also said he held talks with members of a cross-party group of South Korean lawmakers promoting friendly relations between Seoul and Tokyo and appreciated their efforts to work as a bridge connecting the Asian nations.

Kishida’s trip was the first to South Korea by a Japanese prime minister in over five years, and was part of the resumption of reciprocal visits by the leaders of the two countries amid a thaw in ties.

Under the left-wing administration of Yoon’s predecessor, Moon Jae In, Japan-South Korea relations reached their lowest point in decades due largely to a dispute over wartime labor compensation.

But Yoon, who became president in May 2022, has been taking steps to improve ties with Japan, such as his proposal in early March of a solution to the wartime labor compensation issue. He made a trip to Tokyo later the same month for talks with Kishida.

During their talks on Sunday, Kishida and Yoon confirmed that the two nations will join hands to tackle growing security threats in East Asia, with fears mounting about a series of missile launches by North Korea and its development of nuclear weapons.

Before hosting the Group of Seven summit in his constituency of Hiroshima next week, Kishida has been keen to make diplomatic progress to ensure the success of the international gathering, observers said. He has invited Yoon to the G7 summit as a guest.

Last week, Kishida made a four-nation trip to Africa to bolster relations with the Global South — a term that collectively refers to developing countries in areas including Asia, Africa and Latin America — ahead of the G7 summit.

When asked by reporters about what was said during Sunday’s dinner party with Yoon, Kishida said that they had had a meaningful conversation over various topics that he believed deepened the trust between the two leaders.

South Korea said Yoon hosted Kishida and his wife, Yuko, at the president’s official residence, where they were served traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi grilled beef and rice wine.

Before the dinner party, Yoon’s wife, Kim Keon Hee, took Yuko Kishida to a traditional tea ceremony at a temple in Seoul, as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.