TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday met with South Korean President Moon Jae In to discuss cooperation amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by North Korea.
Despite their geographical proximity and economic importance to each other, Japan and South Korea have often found their relations frayed over issues related to wartime history and territory.
Wednesday’s summit provided Abe and Moon with an opportunity to exchange views on various topics of concern and work toward improving ties further in a “future-oriented manner,” Japanese officials said.
“I’d like to cooperate firmly with Mr. Moon to encourage North Korea to take concrete steps (toward denuclearization),” Abe said at the beginning of the talks, held before an anticipated U.S.-North Korea summit, scheduled to take place by early June.
Moon, who became the first South Korean president to visit Japan since 2011, stressed the importance of the two Koreas as well as Japan and North Korea engaging in dialogue and normalizing ties for the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
As Japan and South Korea are key U.S. allies in Asia and face similar threats from North Kora’s nuclear and missile development, strengthening trilateral cooperation is likely to be another item on the summit agenda.
The two leaders met for the first time since the inter-Korean summit in late April at which Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to pursue the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But details such as how to monitor and ensure North Korea’s denuclearization remain unclear.
Japan hosted a trilateral leaders’ summit attended by Abe, Moon and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier in the day.