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(LEAD) Yoon's delegates, Japan's leader agree on need to pursue 'shared interests'

All News 14:23 April 26, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with outcome of talks with Kishida; CHANGES photo)

TOKYO, April 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's delegation and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shared the same view Tuesday on the need to seek "shared interests," the head of the team said.

Rep. Chung Jin-suk of Yoon's People Power Party briefed media on the outcome of its meeting with Kishida at the premier's residence in Tokyo.

During the 25-minute meeting, Yoon's delegation delivered to Kishida the incoming president's handwritten letter encapsulating his hope for forward-looking relations with Japan, according to Chung.

"We have shared the view that both South Korea and Japan, which now stand on a new starting line, should make efforts for the future-oriented development of relations and for shared interests," Chung told reporters.

Rep. Chung Jin-suk (4th from L), head of a South Korean delegation, delivers President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's handwritten letter to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at his official residence in Tokyo on April 26, 2022, in this photo provided by the delegation. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Yoon's letter includes his desire to pursue a forward-looking partnership with Japan while facing up to shared history -- a stance enshrined in a 1998 declaration between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, Chung added.

The declaration paved the way for closer cooperation between the two countries at that time, as Obuchi expressed "keen remorse" and apologized for "great damage and pain" that Japan inflicted on Koreans during its 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

"The Japanese prime minister also shared the understanding on the idea of inheriting and furthering the spirit of the Kim-Obuchi declaration," Chung said

Chung, however, stressed the need to restore trust between the two countries.

"To that end, we relayed our view on the need to expand and revitalize people-to-people exchanges suspended due to COVID-19 and other reasons ... and Prime Minister Kishida shared that view," he said.

During the talks, the two sides also touched on the long-simmering issues of Japan's wartime sexual slavery and forced labor in broad generalities.

Those issues have remained major thorns in bilateral relations, as Tokyo has demanded Seoul should first present measures to address the issues.

Japan claims that the forced labor issue has been already settled under a 1965 treaty aimed at normalizing bilateral relations, while the sexual slavery conundrum was addressed under a 2015 government-to-government deal.

Yoon's seven-member delegation arrived in Japan on Sunday for "policy consultations" with Japanese officials ahead of the launch of the new administration May 10.

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