TOKYO: South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se arrived in Japan Sunday on his first visit since taking office, as the two countries mark 50 years of diplomatic relations despite current strains.
Yun will meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida later in the day to discuss their bilateral ties, North Korea and other topics, Tokyo’s foreign ministry said.
On Monday, Yun will attend a ceremony at the South Korean embassy to celebrate half a century since relations between Tokyo and Seoul were normalized.
Yun is also expected to pay a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, according to media reports.
Yun and Kishida held talks in March in Seoul, but Yun had not been to Japan since being appointed in 2013.
Relations have been severely strained by rows over history and territory, and Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye are yet to hold a one-to-one summit since they came to power.
Park has said there can be no meeting until Japan makes amends for its wartime system of sex slavery, which saw as many as 200,000 mostly South Korean “comfort women” forced into servitude for Japan’s Imperial military.
According to the Nikkei newspaper, Japan, China and South Korea are separately considering holding a trilateral summit this autumn.
Tokyo and Seoul regard the planned trilateral meeting as an opportunity for Abe and Park to hold their first summit, which is expected to be discussed during Sunday’s meeting, the paper said.
Park said in a recent interview with the Washington Post that “there has been considerable progress on the issue of the comfort women” and the two countries are “in the final stage” of Tokyo-Seoul negotiations.
Japan maintains that the issue was settled in the 1965 normalization agreement, which saw Tokyo make a total payment of $800 million in grants or loans to its former colony.