Yoon describes Japan as 'close neighbor' sharing democratic values

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Yoon describes Japan as 'close neighbor' sharing democratic values

President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee disembark from the presidential jet upon their arrival at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Thursday. Yoon made a two-day visit to Japan, becoming the first South Korean president to visit the country for a summit in 12 years. Yonhap By Nam Hyun-woo TOKYO ― President Yoon Suk Yeol described Japan as a "close neighbor" with the same democratic values Thursday, stressing the importance of bolstering bilateral cooperation in various fields during his meeting with Korean nationals in Japan, ahead of his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The two-day trip is the latest manifestation of Yoon's efforts to overcome the thorny history of the neighboring countries and to improve their soured relations and become partners for future prosperity. "South Korea and Japan are close neighbors and countries which share democratic and universal values, and at the same time (Japan is) a partner which cooperates with us on global agendas including security and economy," Yoon said during a meeting with Korean nationals in Japan at a hotel in Tokyo.

"The comprehensive global crisis and grave security situation including North Korea's missile threats require us to have a stronger coalition and cooperation with countries sharing the universal values of freedom, human rights and rule of law," the president said. "As cooperation with Japan becomes more important than ever, I announced a resolution on compensating victims of wartime forced labor and proposed that South Korea and Japan should cooperate for future prosperity," he added. Yoon calls for Japan's reciprocity in forced labor issue 2023-03-16 17:12 | Foreign Affairs This is the first visit to Tokyo for a summit by a Korean leader in 12 years. The two countries' relations had been at their lowest ebb after the South Korean Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims who were forced to work at Japanese factories during World War II. As Japan resisted, claiming the issue was addressed by a 1965 treaty between the two countries, Tokyo imposed export controls on key industrial materials shipped to Seoul and South Korea countered with a complaint at the World Trade Organization.

To end this vicious cycle, the Yoon administration proposed an alternative compensation plan this month, in which a South Korean public foundation will compensate the victims without the direct involvement of the Japanese firms. The proposal drew favorable responses from Japan and painted a rosy outlook for improvements to strained bilateral relations. "Today I will sit with Prime Minister Kishida to reaffirm this cause and share opinions on strengthening bilateral cooperation for the future," Yoon said. "The two countries are now at the starting point of a better future." The South Korean presidential jet taxis after landing at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Thursday.

AFP-Yonhap Yoon met with Kishida on Thursday afternoon, where the leaders discussed the need to repair their frayed ties, make joint efforts to deter North Korea's missile and nuclear threats, normalize their economic exchanges and strengthen three-way security cooperation involving the United States. On early Thursday morning right before Yoon left for Tokyo, Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile toward the East Sea just hours before Yoon's departure. On Friday, Yoon will meet high-profile figures from associations promoting the two countries' friendship, such as the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union. He will then have a roundtable luncheon with business magnates of both countries and deliver a speech at Keio University on the future generation in the afternoon. President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee attend a meeting with South Korean nationals in Japan at a hotel in Tokyo, Thursday.


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