SEOUL – Former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, a veteran lawmaker in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, held talks last week with a high-ranking official in the South Korean president’s office, according to government sources in Seoul.
Nukaga, who heads the Japan-South Korea parliamentarians’ league, met with Park Jun-u, the top secretary in the president’s office, on Friday, the sources said Monday.
Nukaga is believed to have held discussions in a bid to improve bilateral ties, which have soured over the Takeshima territorial dispute and perceptions regarding colonial-era history, and to look at the prospect of a summit between Abe and President Park Geun-hye.
Secretary Park, former chief of the policy and legal affairs division in the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo and former head of the Northeast Asian division in the Foreign Ministry, told the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, that he did meet with Nukaga, with whom he has ties, but they did not discuss a possible summit.
According to the sources, Nukaga asked to talk with a high-ranking official in the president’s office, and senior officials in 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, and Takeshima by Japan.
Last Wednesday, Abe held a “social chat” with 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.
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