Abe Hints at Improving Ties with Seoul

  • By Lee Ha-won

    January 21, 2020 13:28

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in the Diet in Tokyo on Monday. /AP-Yonhap

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called Korea the island country's "most important neighbor" and said the neighbors share "basic values and strategic interests."

    He made the remarks in a formal address that opened a regular session of the Diet on Monday. Abe added he expects Korea "to keep promises between the two countries and build future-oriented bilateral relation."

    It was the first time since 2014 that Abe has said the two countries share "basic values" in the largely formulaic address.

    On the same occasion last year, he did not mention Korea at all in a deliberate snub as the two countries clashed over historical issues.

    But on Monday he expressed hopes that relations can recover after the issue of compensation for Korean forced laborers spilled over into trade relations.

    Abe sat down for talks with President Moon Jae-in last December after a period when they would barely shake hands at international meetings, apparently realizing that recent trade restrictions against Korea could end up benefiting Korea's image rather than his own.

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