Japanese PM Arrives in South Korea for Landmark Summit

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in South Korea on Sunday as Seoul and Tokyo seek to restart their "shuttle diplomacy" and mend ties in the face of growing nuclear threats from Pyongyang, reports AFP.

The plane carrying Kishida landed at Seoul Airport in Seongnam on Sunday -- the first official bilateral visit by a Japanese leader to South Korea in over a decade. He was greeted by officials ahead of a key summit later in the day with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

The East Asian neighbours, both key security allies of the United States, have long been at odds over historic issues linked to Japan's brutal 1910 to 1945 colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, including sexual slavery and forced labour.

But President Yoon has made resetting ties with Japan a top priority for his administration, and was in Tokyo in March for a key fence-mending visit.

Kishida said Sunday ahead of his departure that the two leaders were working to resume their so-called "shuttle diplomacy" -- paused for years during a bitter trade spat linked to the forced labour issue.

During their March summit, Kishida and Yoon agreed to end tit-for-tat trade curbs, with Kishida inviting the South Korean leader to a G7 meeting in Hiroshima this month.

Kishida said he was looking forward to "an honest exchange of views" with Yoon, "based on a relationship of trust".

After his arrival, Kishida will visit the Seoul National Cemetery -- where South Korea's war veterans are buried -- to lay flowers. He will hold talks with Yoon on Sunday afternoon.

Yoon is expected to host a dinner party at the presidential residence -- likely serving Korean barbeque -- and he may even cook for Kishida, according to local reports.

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