New S Korean President Yoon says he hopes to meet with Kishida soon

New South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday he hopes to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida soon, in a show of willingness to improve soured ties between the two neighbors.
In a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Seoul, Yoon said he wants to cooperate with Japan for better relations and expressed eagerness to closely communicate to that end, according to Hayashi.
Hayashi, who handed a letter from Kishida to Yoon during the meeting, said he told Yoon the two countries must resolve the wartime labor issue so as to advance bilateral ties.
Yoon was sworn in earlier Tuesday, as Tokyo-Seoul relations have sunk to the lowest level in decades due to issues stemming from wartime history.
Earlier, Hayashi agreed with his incoming South Korean counterpart Park Jin that they "should not stand by and let Japan-South Korea relations deteriorate any further" and that the two countries will discuss issues of concern "in a timely manner so that they are resolved as early as possible."
The two also affirmed the importance of stronger trilateral security cooperation with the United States on the North Korean nuclear and missile threats, following a series of ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang this year and growing speculation that it could resume nuclear testing.
Yoon, the main conservative opposition candidate, won the presidential election in March by a razor-thin margin. During campaigning he called for a "future-oriented" approach to relations with Japan.
Japan maintains that wartime issues have been resolved and that South Korea should follow through on agreements, such as a 2015 deal to settle the issue of "comfort women" procured for Japan's wartime military brothels.
The two neighbors are also at odds over islets in the Sea of Japan controlled by Seoul and claimed by Tokyo, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, as well as Japan's controls on exports of semiconductor materials to South Korea, tightened in July 2019.
The two nations' leaders have not held an in-person, sit-down meeting since December 2019, also due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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