South Korean, Japanese leaders hail 'deeper cooperation' despite colonial past
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday his "heart aches" for Koreans who suffered under colonialism, as Seoul and Tokyo seek a rapid reset of long-strained ties in the face of North Korean threats.
Kishida was in Seoul on the first official bilateral visit by a Japanese leader to South Korea in over a decade. He met President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has made improving testy relations with Japan a top priority for his administration.
The East Asian neighbours, both crucial 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.
"My heart aches as many people went through a very difficult and sad experience in the harsh environment at that time," Kishida said, speaking after the summit with Yoon.
Yoon said Kishida's visit showed "shuttle diplomacy" - regular mutual visits and high-level talks - was back on track, after a lengthy pause during a bitter trade spat linked to the forced labour issue.
"Based on the friendship and trust I have with Prime Minister Kishida, I will promote deeper bilateral cooperation toward a new future," said Yoon, who was in Tokyo in March for a fence-mending visit.
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