The Sankei Shimbun's former Seoul bureau chief Tatsuya Kato visited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday after returning to Japan from South Korea, where he had been facing a travel ban, accused of defaming President Park Geun-hye.

"I thanked (Abe) for giving me encouragement by communicating promptly with South Korea and the international community," said Kato, who returned home for the first time in about eight months after South Korea lifted a travel ban on Tuesday.

He expressed relief after arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport later the same day, saying he had expected the ban would be extended.