S. Korea congratulates Japanese PM-elect Kishida, pledges active cooperation

October 4, 2021

 South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday sent a letter congratulating Japanese Prime Minister-elect Fumio Kishida on his election as he proposed joint efforts to develop relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

“President Moon hopes that the two countries will set an example for cooperation as neighboring countries and as the closest countries in terms of their geography and culture, and as they share basic values in democracy and principles of market economy,” presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said.

Moon’s office also said that South Korea is ready to hold dialogue with Japan’s new Cabinet.

Kishida, a former foreign minister, was elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote earlier in the day to succeed Yoshihide Suga, as Seoul seeks to improve relations with Tokyo strained amid protracted rows over wartime history and trade.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said that South Korea will actively cooperate with Japan to explore ways to address pending bilateral issues and continue efforts to strengthen practical cooperation in the economy, culture, people-to-people exchanges and other areas.

The sides have long been at odds over territory and other historical disputes stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

In 2019, Japan imposed restrictions on exports of three key industrial materials critical for South Korea’s chip and display industries.

South Korea views the Japanese moves as retaliation against 2018 South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule.

In recent months, Seoul has been pushing to improve bilateral relations at a time when the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has been pushing to reinforce a regional network of democratic alliances and partnerships to counter China’s growing assertiveness.