• Kyodo

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A delegation from Japan’s most influential business lobby on Wednesday asked South Korean President Park Geun-hye to hold one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which would be the first since the two leaders took office.

During a meeting at the Blue House in Seoul, Park told the delegation that “various efforts have been made at the government level,” and she expressed hope they will produce “a good outcome,” according to Sadayuki Sakakibara, head of Keidanren, which represents the nation’s largest companies.

Park did not touch on issues related to wartime history, Sakakibara told reporters after the meeting. By contrast, at a previous meeting in December, the South Korean president urged Japan to address historical issues in a “sincere” manner.

“I believe we are seeing some positive developments,” Sakakibara said.

The fact that Park made no mention of historical issues could be the latest indication that the South Korean government hopes to improve economic ties with Japan, even as the two countries remain at odds over territorial issues and perceptions of wartime history, observers say.

The Japanese and South Korean governments need to have good relations enabling their leaders to exchange opinions, which is “indispensable” for strengthening economic ties, Sakakibara told Park.

Park and the delegation agreed to cooperate over a series of events to be held by the two governments and business circles to mark the 50th anniversary this year of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea.

Sakakibara and other delegation members were in Seoul to attend a Japan-South Korea business leaders’ meeting that runs through Thursday.

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