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Japan's Abe appears to send condolence letter to Moon on mother's passing

Diplomacy 22:09 October 30, 2019

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have sent a letter of condolence to South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the death of his mother, multiple sources from Seoul's ruling party said Wednesday.

The letter was believed to have been delivered to Moon by Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine Yasumasa, when the Japanese diplomat paid his respects to the deceased, according to the sources.

The 92-year-old mother of Moon, Kang Han-ok, died Tuesday evening at a Busan hospital after suffering from an illness for a long time. Busan, about 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is Moon's hometown.

A private mourning station has been established at Namcheon Catholic Cathedral in the port city.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have of late been at their lowest ebb in years amid rows over history and trade. Japan imposed export restrictions on South Korea earlier this year citing security concerns, in apparent retaliation against Seoul's top court ruling last year on wartime forced labor.

Earlier in the day, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers Moon expressed his openness to dialogue with Abe in a personal letter delivered to the Japanese prime minister last week.

During a parliamentary session, Kang made the remarks when a lawmaker asked her about the content of the letter Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon handed to Abe during a meeting in Tokyo on Thursday last week.

"In the letter, President Moon Jae-in expressed his position that he always remains open to dialogue between the leaders," Kang said.

"I understand he voiced his hope that the leaders of South Korea and Japan would become able to meet by overcoming pending difficult issues," she added.

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