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Japan hopes that South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s visit next week will pave the way for the Emperor to visit South Korea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Thursday.The government’s chief spokesman made the remarks in reference to media reports that the president, during his four-day visit beginning Wednesday, may extend an invitation to the Emperor to visit South Korea.”We do hope to create an environment that will allow the Emperor to visit to South Korea,” Nonaka said at a news conference. “We would like to take President Kim’s upcoming visit as an opportunity to work toward that end.”In an interview Wednesday with Japanese reporters at the Blue House presidential office in Seoul, Kim expressed hope that his visit to Japan will be an opportunity to help the two nations “usher in a 21st century where we have completely settled past issues and achieved a sense of true understanding and cooperation.””A genuine normalization of diplomatic relations can be successfully achieved only when mutual understanding and true friendship are fully established on the private level,” Kim said.The South Korean leader went on to say, “I hope the Emperor can visit South Korea as soon as possible. I hope to see a time when the Japanese Emperor can visit South Korea and receive a warm welcome from the South Korean people.”An Imperial visit has been a sensitive issue because of Japan’s annexation and brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945.

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