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(LEAD) Japan to keep working together with S. Korea after impeachment: official

All Headlines 13:33 March 10, 2017

(ATTN: CORRECTS typo in 2nd para)

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- Japan's top diplomat said Friday that the country will work together with whoever will be chosen as the next head of state in South Korea in "various areas" even after the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, a foreign media report showed.

Japan's Kyodo News quoted Fumio Kishida as making the comment in a meeting with reporters right after the Constitutional Court in Seoul upheld the impeachment of Park over a massive corruption scandal involving her and her longtime friend.

Foreign ministers of South Korea (L) and Japan. (Yonhap file photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

"Japan needs to promote cooperation with the new (South Korean) government in various areas," Kishida said.

With the court ruling, Park must step down immediately and an election to fill the void should be held within two months. Experts expect the election to take place on May 9.

Diplomatic friction between the two neighbors has been deepening over a recently erected statue of a "comfort woman." The statue symbolizing the hardships of Korean women whom Japan forced into sexual slavery during World War II was set up in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. In protest, Japan called its top envoy back home, and he has yet to return to his job in Seoul.

As for when its ambassador will return to South Korea, Kishida was quoted as saying that it has not been decided yet.

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