Kishida, Yoon agree to restore ties, address N Korean issue

The leaders of Japan and South Korea agreed Wednesday that the two nations need to restore sound bilateral ties, according to Japan's government, amid expectations for improvement in the relations frayed over wartime labor and territorial issues.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also shared serious concerns over North Korea's missile and nuclear threats and pledged to enhance their cooperation further to deal with them, the Japanese and South Korean governments said of the first in-person, sit-down meeting between the leaders since Yoon took office in May.
Both governments said Kishida and Yoon also agreed to keep communicating and accelerating dialogue involving senior diplomats from both countries during their 30-minute talks held in New York on the fringes of the annual U.N. General Assembly.
The two confirmed the importance of promoting bilateral and trilateral cooperation also involving the United States, since "Japan and South Korea are important neighbors for each other under the current strategic environment," according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
The latest move came two days after Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin met in New York and agreed that the two nations will continue discussions toward an early resolution of the issue of wartime labor compensation.
Yoon became the South Korean leader in May with a pledge to take a future-oriented approach toward Tokyo after the bilateral relationship sank to its lowest point in years during the administration of Yoon's predecessor Moon Jae In.
South Korea is exploring how to deal with the issue of court orders to liquidate assets in the country seized from two Japanese companies that had been sued over alleged forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
The companies have not complied with the compensation orders as Tokyo maintains that all claims stemming from its colonial rule, including compensation for Koreans forced to work, were settled "completely and finally" under a bilateral agreement signed in 1965.
The Japanese government said Kishida and Yoon met in an informal setting, while the South Korean side described it as a summary meeting.
Kishida and Yoon agreed to develop Japan-South Korea relations based on the "friendly cooperative relationship" between the countries since 1965, the ministry said.
Japan and South Korea are also at loggerheads over the Seoul-controlled, Tokyo-claimed islets of Takeshima in the Sea of Japan, which South Korea calls Dokdo.
Meanwhile, Yoon renewed his support for Japan in resolving the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the ministry.
Kishida and Yoon briefly chatted in June on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, which the two were attending as leaders of NATO partners.

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