SEOUL – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in affirmed in telephone talks Tuesday they will continue working together to step up pressure on North Korea following the victory of Japan’s ruling coalition in Sunday’s Lower House election.
Moon called Abe to congratulate him on the election outcome, telling the prime minister he strongly supports his “policy vision and leadership,” according to a Japanese government spokesman.
Abe thanked Moon for his support, and the two agreed to continue to further develop bilateral ties, the spokesman said.
While sticking points over historical grievances and territory remain in Japan-South Korea relations, the conversation was cordial, with Abe telling Moon he ate Korean food on the eve of the election to recoup his energy after campaigning.
The election platform of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party — which together with its coalition partner, Komeito, won more than two-thirds of the seats in the Lower House — included a pledge to “lead” international efforts to put pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile threats.
Abe also told Moon that he looks forward to seeing him in Japan before the end of the year for a trilateral summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the spokesman said.
A specific date for the trilateral gathering is still unconfirmed. Japan was supposed to host the summit last year, but it was postponed due to a corruption scandal involving South Korea’s then-President Park Geun-hye.
After his talk with Moon, Abe took a phone call from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who also offered congratulations on the election win.
Abe and Turnbull affirmed that they will work closely together on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, the spokesman said.
Following the United States’ withdrawal from the TPP earlier this year, the remaining 11 Pacific Rim signatories, including Japan and Australia, are trying to come to an agreement on what amendments or freezes should be made in order to bring it into force.
The signatories have pledged to reach a deal in time for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit starting Nov. 10 in Vietnam.
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