Japan's new PM Suga holds 1st phone conversation with South Korean president
Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in via phone on Thursday, which was their first conversation since Suga took office last week.
In the talks that lasted about 20 minutes, Suga urged Moon to create an opportunity for the two countries to "return to a constructive relationship," according to a Japanese official who briefed reporters.
The official added that the two leaders agreed to work toward allowing business people to travel between the two countries amid COVID-19 restrictions.
After the phone conversation, Suga told reporters that he would continue to "strongly urge South Korea to take appropriate action." According to local media, Suga's remarks continued the hardline stance taken by his predecessor Shinzo Abe.
However, he also said, "Japan and South Korea are extremely important neighbors and we must work together as well as with the United States to deal with issues including North Korea (the DPRK)."
The phone call was also the first talks between the leaders of the neighboring countries in nine months amid a diplomatic feud since a meeting between Abe and Moon in Chengdu, China, in December last year.
Ties have deteriorated between both sides following a South Korean Supreme Court decision in October 2018 ordering Nippon Steel to compensate South Koreans for forced labor under Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule.
Japan, for its part, has claimed the rulings are not in line with international law and run contrary to the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations between the two neighbors since the 1965 normalization of diplomatic ties.