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Ex-finance chief Nukaga met Park’s top aide to improve ties

Kyodo

Former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, a veteran legislator of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, held talks last week with a high-ranking official at the South Korean president’s office, Seoul government sources said Monday.

Nukaga, who heads the Japan-South Korea parliamentarians’ league, met with Park Jun-u, the top secretary at the president’s office, Friday, the sources said.

Nukaga is believed to have held discussions in a bid to improve bilateral ties, which have soured over a territorial dispute and perceptions regarding colonial-era history, and to look at the prospect of a summit between Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Secretary Park, former chief of the policy and legal affairs division at the Embassy of South Korea in Japan and the Northeast Asian division at the Foreign Ministry, told the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, that he met Nukaga, with whom he has ties, but they never discussed a possible summit.

According to the sources, Nukaga asked for a meeting with a high-ranking official at the president’s office, and senior officials at the South Korean counterpart of the lawmakers’ league set up the meeting with the secretary.

Nukaga was in Seoul as a member of a Japanese delegation visiting the South Korean capital for a meeting between senior officials of the two leagues, but he did not attend that meeting.

The two countries are locked in a sovereignty dispute over two rocky outcroppings in the Sea of Japan called Dokdo by South Korea, which controls the territory. Japan calls the islets Takeshima.

On Wednesday, Abe held a “social chat” with South Korean President Park at a dinner of the East Asia Summit in Brunei but a summit between the two has not taken place since Park’s inauguration in February.