Japan’s Prime Minister announces visit to South Korea to resume diplomatic ties

Archive – Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – Europa Press/Contacto/Attila Husejnow

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that he will visit South Korea starting on the 7th of this month for a two-day summit aimed at meeting with South Korean President Yoon Sung Yeol to improve bilateral relations.

»If various circumstances permit, we are currently making arrangements to visit South Korea on the 7th and 8th of this month,» Kishida told reporters during his visit to Ghana, as reported by NHK.

This visit, which is part of the preparations for the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, comes after Yoon visited Japan in March, agreeing to resume the visits of both leaders to their respective countries.

Moreover, should it finally take place, this will be Kishida’s first trip to South Korea since taking office, as well as the first visit by a Japanese head of government in five years, when Shinzo Abe came to meet with the country’s then President Moon Jae In.

In a further sign of improving ties between the two countries, the finance ministers of Japan and South Korea met for the first time in seven years, saying that relations »have entered a new phase» and remarking that dialogue between the two countries has increased.

South Korea’s Choo Kyung Ho and Japan’s Shunichi Suzuki have agreed to resume their meetings as counterparts on the sidelines of the 56th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank’s Board of Governors in Incheon, 36 kilometers from Seoul.

»(As the two countries) consider free trade and the market system as the key to their economic management, there are many areas where the two governments and private sectors can join forces,» Choo said, as reported by Yonhap news agency.

For his part, Suzuki added that Seoul and Tokyo »are important neighbors that need to cooperate to address various tasks in the global economy, as well as in regional and international society».

Relations between the two historically tense nations had deteriorated significantly after the South Korean Supreme Court in 2018 ordered two Japanese firms to compensate colonial-era victims. Seoul’s recent decision to compensate victims without Japan’s involvement has been interpreted by Tokyo as a sign of Yoon’s strong commitment to improving bilateral relations amid notable challenges, such as North Korea’s nuclear threat.