The South Korean government has expressed hopes that its relations with Japan will improve under the new emperor, who will officially ascend the throne Wednesday. President Moon Jae-in wrote to outgoing Japanese Emperor Akihito on Tuesday to thank him for his role in developing bilateral relations.
“President Moon said that the emperor has stressed the significance of guarding peace during his reign,” South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Kim In-chul told a regular press briefing Tuesday. “(Moon) also expressed his expectation that (Akihito) will continue to help improve the two countries’ relations after he steps down.” Kim also added that the Seoul government congratulates Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito (who will become the new emperor) and hopes that the two countries’ ties will develop in a future-oriented way.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon also voiced gratitude in a social media post to the emperor for placing importance on the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, stressing a need for the two countries’ leaders to make concerted efforts to establish a new friendly and cooperative relationship in Japan’s new Reiwa era. Lee also thanked Crown Prince Naruhito for his inspiring words when they met (at a global forum) last year.
With the Seoul government having welcomed Japan’s new imperial era, growing attention is being paid to whether the two countries will be able to mend ties, which are at their lowest level due to diplomatic issues including rulings by South Korean courts that ordered Japanese companies to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor. All eyes are now on whether the two countries’ leaders will sit down face-to-face on the occasion of the G20 Osaka summit scheduled to be held in June.
Gi-Jae Han firstname.lastname@example.org