Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his wish to meet President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24-25.
In a bid to woo Park, the Japanese government even delayed the announcement planned for March 26 of revisions to school textbooks that reflect the Abe administration's lurch to the far right.
Abe told the Diet on Tuesday that Korea is Japan's "most important neighbor that shares basic values and strategic interests" and vowed to strive for a "future-oriented relationship" at the Nuclear Security Summit.
Jiji Press reported that Abe's comments demonstrate his desire to hold a summit with Park. The Japanese government wants a trilateral summit that also includes U.S. President Barack Obama, but the Park administration believes it is impossible to sit face-to-face with Abe as long as his government continues to whitewash Japan's World War II atrocities.
Abe in a meeting with lawmakers the same day reiterated that his government wants to uphold a 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono admitting imperial Japan's wartime atrocities and acknowledging that the Japanese Imperial Army was involved, directly and indirectly, in the sexual enslavement of Asian women for troops.
Until recently, Abe had dropped heavy hints that the Kono statement needs revision, but he apparently changed his mind after intense criticism from Japan's neighbors.
The announcement of revisions to Japanese school textbooks has been postponed until early April. They are expected to assert Japan's flimsy colonial claim to Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.
Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he believes a Gallup poll that showed 52 percent of Koreans in favor of a Seoul-Tokyo summit reflects the "objective" views of the Korean public.