Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said South Korea was its “most important neighbour” and that the two shared basic values, taking a conciliatory tone toward the country that has been locked in a bitter row with Tokyo for over a year.
The comment comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week proposed the two countries work together to resolve the issue of wartime forced labourers, and called Japan “our closest neighbour.”
It also follows some fence-mending steps in recent months, including Seoul’s reversal of its decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, and Tokyo’s partial easing of curbs on the export of high-tech materials to South Korea.
“Under an increasingly severe security environment in Northeast Asia, diplomacy with neighbouring countries is extremely important,” Abe told parliament in his policy speech.
“Essentially, South Korea is the most important neighbour with which Japan shares basic values and strategic interests.”