TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide on Friday expressed wariness over a request by a South Korean lawmaker to visit the country in order to improve bilateral ties.
Suga met with Kim Jin-pyo, head of a league of South Korean lawmakers promoting relations between the two Asian neighbors, at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.
Suga told Kim that Seoul must first “create the environment” for him to visit South Korea, apparently with the issue of wartime labor in mind.
“Japan-South Korea relations are in a severe state,” he said. “I am considering improving ties, but I want the South Korean side as well to show its thinking about creating a good environment.”
Meanwhile, Suga expressed gratitude for a congratulatory message he received from South Korean President Moon Jae-in upon his assumption of office as prime minister in September.
On Tuesday, Suga met with Park Jie-won, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, in Tokyo.
At a press conference Friday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato noted the significance of the exchange of opinions between Tokyo and Seoul while saying, “We will continue to strongly urge the South Korean side to create an opportunity to restore a healthy bilateral relationship.”