By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – South Korea and Japan vowed on Thursday to boost bilateral relations in areas such as economy, security, and communication.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol earlier in Tokyo, said the two countries will resume shuttle diplomacy and strengthen communication.
The duo was speaking at a joint news conference, live-streamed by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Yoon is the first South Korean president to visit Japan since 2011.
“We want to deepen the sense of trust between two sides (and) have good relations,” Kishida said, adding that such an environment will be created step by step.
“We can supplement each other,” Yoon, for his part, said, pointing to various projects where the two Asian nations can create “synergy.”
He also revealed that South Korea has "completely normalized" its bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement.
"I believe the two countries should be able to share information on North Korea's nuclear missile launches and trajectories and respond to them," he said.
Kishida said the two countries would strengthen security ties in order to tackle North Korea.
While Yoon was flying to Tokyo, North Korea early on Thursday launched an intercontinental ballistic missile eastward, triggering condemnation from South Korea, Japan, and the US.
Kishida welcomed Seoul's decision to drop its demand for settlement with Japanese firms to resolve the decades-long issue of wartime forced labor and sexual exploitation, saying, "There are several deliverables as to how we respond to it."
When asked whether Seoul’s “solution” will serve South Korea’s interests, Yoon said national interest should be a “win-win” situation.
"Korea's national interest is not a zero-sum relationship with Japan's national interest," he added.
South Korea has said a public foundation in Seoul will pay compensation to the victims of Japanese forced labor and sexual exploitation during WWII.
Yoon said Seoul’s “solution” to the wartime tensions will help “normalize” bilateral relations and push back security "threats around us.” He has pledged to “faithfully implement the solution.”
Kishida said Tokyo appreciates Seoul’s “solution” to the wartime tensions.
In 2018, a South Korean court asked Japanese firms to pay compensation to the victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
Tokyo rejected the ruling and said the issue was settled in a postwar treaty signed in 1965 when the two countries established diplomatic relations.
According to Korea JoongAang Daily, Yoon said at a meeting with Koreans in Japan, "I don't think a responsible politician should use the Korea-Japan issue for domestic politics."
Resolving the forced labor issue was a "difficult but natural decision," he said.
"If the relationship between Korea and Japan is uncomfortable or worsens, it will be difficult for our compatriots," said Yoon.
"As the head of the government, I apologize to our compatriots." Yoon said, adding that "I will lead Korea-Japan relations with a bold heart in the future."
Ahead of their bilateral summit, Tokyo and Seoul end bilateral trade disputes, with Japan rolling back export controls from the trade list and South Korea withdrawing its complaint against Tokyo at the World Trade Organization.
In 2019, the two sides imposed trade restrictions on each other that further dented relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
The two sides on Thursday agreed to start economic and bilateral security dialogues.