September 17, 2020 10:15
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday congratulated Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on his inauguration.
In a letter to Suga, Moon urged combined efforts to develop bilateral relations, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.
Suga, the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was elected by the Diet as the 99th prime minister of Japan after his long-serving predecessor Shinzo Abe stepped down for health reasons.
Moon is "ready to sit down any time for dialogue with Japan, which shares basic values and strategic interests with Korea and is its closest friend geographically and culturally," the spokesman said.
The president expressed hope that the two neighbors can "wisely overcome historic problems and strengthen substantive cooperation in economic, cultural and personnel exchange in a forward-looking and mutually beneficial way."
Moon also wrote to Abe to thank him for his efforts to improve bilateral relations and wished him a quick recovery, the spokesman added. Abe and his wife separately wrote to Moon and his wife last week reminiscing about the times they spent together.
Abe leaves a legacy of the worst relations with Korea in decades, peppered with tit-for-tat retaliation over historic grievances that his chauvinistic government became increasingly unwilling to resolve.
Suga was previously Abe's attack dog as chief Cabinet secretary and the mouthpiece for some of Japan's most egregious denials of colonial and wartime atrocities.
But Moon sounded a conciliatory note when Abe stepped down on Aug. 28, saying the "longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history" had "long played many roles in the development of relations between the two countries."
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