Kishida arrives in South Korea for first visit by Japanese PM in 12 years

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida arrived in South Korea on Sunday to meet president Yoon Suk Yeol, the first state visit by a Japanese leader to the country in more than 12 years.

Yoon received Kishida at the presidential residence in Seoul, where they met for talks for the second time in two months as part of efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries, as well as discuss historical disagreements and the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

“In less than two months since I had a summit with you in Tokyo, South Korea-Japan relations are clearly showing improvements in earnest. I feel a responsibility to create a responsibility period in our bilateral relations that is even better than the good times of the past,” the South Korean leader said at the beginning of the meeting.

Kishida, meanwhile, thanked Yoon and expressed his intention to fully restore the “shuttle diplomacy” between both nations, saying he was looking forward to exchanging views on ways to mend ties.

Shuttle diplomacy – a scheme that is carried out with mutual visits and talks between government representatives – is aimed to resolve the thorny dispute over the Korean forced laborers during Japan’s colonial rule of the peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

Sunday’s meeting comes a ahead of the G7 summit in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, to which Kishida has invited his South Korean counterpart.

During his two-day visit to South Korea, Kishida will also hold meetings with members of an association of parliamentarians from South Korea and Japan.

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