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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol met in Seoul on Sunday to discuss a slew of issues that have long been haunting bilateral relations.

The two leaders met for their second summit in less than two months, a highly symbolic meeting demonstrating that the neighboring nations are firmly on course to the full restoration of long-strained relations.

The meeting held as part of the restarting of reciprocal visits, is viewed as confirmation that bilateral relations have been improving after Seoul announced a solution to a wartime labor compensation dispute that had escalated tensions between the two nations, multiple local media outlets reported.

Kishida made the first trip to South Korea by a Japanese political leader in over five years amid growing security threats in East Asia, such as North Korea’s missile and nuclear development.

During the summit, which was open to the media, Yoon Suk Yeol said he feels a responsibility to make Seoul-Tokyo relations even better than they were during their good times.

“Our mutual visit took less than two months,” adding, “I think it clearly shows that South Korea-Japan ties are progressing at a fast speed,” Yoon told Kishida.

“In less than two months since I had a summit with you in Tokyo, South Korea-Japan relations are clearly showing improvements in earnest. I feel a responsibility to create a good period in our bilateral relations that is even better than the good times of the past,” Yoon was cited as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency

Yoon further said that historical issues should not keep relations between the two countries from moving forward.

“I think we should get out of the perception that South Korea and Japan cannot take even a single step forward unless issues of the past are not completely settled,” he added.

Kishida, for his part, responded that dialogue between Japan and South Korea “has been moving dynamically” for the past two months, as the two leaders have been trying to dispel the previous dark atmosphere, according to Japan ‘s Kyodo news agency.

He thanked Yoon for his warm welcome, saying he is pleased to be fully restoring “shuttle diplomacy” between them and hopes to exchange opinions on ways to move the bilateral relationship forward.

Earlier, Kishida arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning for a two-day landmark visit, as the two countries seek to improve ties amid growing security threats in East Asia.

Soon after his arrival, Kishida headed to the Seoul National Cemetery and paid his respects to Korea’s fallen independence fighters and war veterans.

The premier’s trip also marks the first bilateral exchange of visits in 12 years, marking the resumption of “shuttle diplomacy,” or regular mutual visits, as agreed between Kishida and Yoon during their summit in Tokyo this March, Yonhap news agency reported.

Later in the day, Kishida is scheduled to have dinner with Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee at the official presidential residence, the news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources.

During their summit, the two leaders were also expected to agree on deepening security relations between Tokyo and Seoul to address North Korea’s missile and nuclear development, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

Bilateral ties reached their lowest point in decades under the left-wing administration of Yoon’s predecessor, Moon Jae In, over a slew of wartime issues, including a labor compensation dispute.

But relations have warmed significantly following Seoul’s decision in March to compensate Korean victims of Japanese wartime forced labor without contributions from Japanese firms.

Kishida, who is scheduled to host a G-7 summit in Hiroshima later this month, has also been eager to reconcile with South Korea, as the United States, their close ally, has grown more wary of the security situation in Asia, according to the Kyodo news agency.

“I would like to frankly exchange views based on trust” with Yoon on various topics, including issues surrounding wartime labor disputes, Kishida told reporters before leaving for Seoul along with his wife on Sunday morning.

“We will continue making efforts to develop these trends,” he added.

The Japanese premier may convey to Yoon Tokyo’s commitment to upholding and maintaining previous government statements that expressed remorse over Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia, Kyodo reported.

In February 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, later slain by an assassin, was the last Japanese premier to visit South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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