June 23, 2015 09:40
President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended embassy receptions in Seoul and Tokyo on Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Relations are at a historic low, and the occasion saw the first conciliatory gestures since Abe's far-right government came to power.
Korea has been increasingly dismayed by Tokyo's inability to face up to its colonial and World War II atrocities and attempts to claim Korea's Dokdo islets.
Speaking at the Japanese reception in Seoul, Park said, "This anniversary can provide a significant opportunity for the two countries to move toward a future. It's important to create a mood where we can put down the heavy burden of history with a view to achieving reconciliation and mutual prosperity."
True to form, Abe talked past the issues that divide the two countries and stressed the importance of regional partnerships instead.
"Korea and Japan are each other's most important neighbors," he said. "Our cooperation is very important to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region."
Abe met earlier on Monday with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who is visiting Tokyo, and said he wished to develop bilateral relations for the "next generation."
Amid these early signs of a thaw it remains uncertain whether the two leaders will meet for a summit.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com