NUSA DUA, INDONESIA – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a brief conversation — for less than a minute — Tuesday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Indonesia amid ongoing bilateral tensions over a number of issues.
Abe talked to Park as they sat next to each other at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Bali.
Details of their discussion have not been disclosed. The two countries did not agreed to hold formal bilateral talks on the sidelines of the APEC summit.
Japan and South Korea face growing tensions in their relations over the Takeshima dispute in the Sea of Japan and the historic issues that stem from Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia. Seoul has strongly protested recent remarks by some Japanese lawmakers apparently justifying Tokyo’s perception of history.
Joining APEC-relevant meetings Monday, Abe shook hands with Park as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping, another neighbor that has seen significant deteriorations in relations with Japan since last year.
Japanese officials have also failed to schedule bilateral talks between Abe and Xi.
Still, the Japanese government welcomed the leaders’ brief contacts in Bali, suggesting it will keep seeking a summit with China and South Korea.
“I believe it is favorable that the leaders repeatedly see each other and exchange greetings,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.
Tokyo is “always open” to dialogue with China and regards South Korea as “an important neighbor that shares the same values” as Japan, Suga added.