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SEOUL/TOKYO, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) — A group of South Korean lawmakers met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday amid growing expectations for improvement in ties between the two nations frayed over historical and trade issues.
Seven members of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union, who arrived in Tokyo for a three-day visit on Thursday, paid a courtesy call on the new Japanese leader. It marked the first time for Suga to meet South Korean lawmakers since he took office as prime minister in September.
“We told (Suga) that the union will work hard to promote exchanges between the two countries on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympic Games and to create conditions for the leaders of the two countries to resolve difficult pending issues,” Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party, who leads the union, told reporters after the around 30-minute meeting at Suga’s residence.
Suga expressed appreciation for the legislators’ efforts and hopes over their role in diplomatic relations between the two neighbors, according to Kim.
Fukushiro Nukaga of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who leads the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union, also said Suga expects the lawmakers to contribute to solving the issues stemming from Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.
South Korea and Japan have clashed over Tokyo’s export curbs last year that are seen as political retaliation for Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Koreans victims of wartime forced labor.
On Thursday, the lawmakers held a face-to-face meeting with their Japanese counterparts to discuss ways to boost cooperation and exchanges between the two sides.
The lawmakers from the two countries agreed to form a special committee dedicated to bilateral cooperation efforts for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which have been delayed to next year due to the pandemic. It was proposed by the South Korean side.
The Japanese lawmakers also accepted a suggestion to hold a joint seminar to promote mutual exchanges next year.