National / Politics

New group of South Korean lawmakers plans fence-mending visit to Japan; Nam Gwan-pyo named new ambassador

JIJI, Staff Report

Moon Hee-sang, speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly, has set up a group of lawmakers to beef up interchanges with Japanese politicians, the office of the assembly’s press secretary announced on Friday.

Suh Chung-won, an independent who formerly headed an association of National Assembly members that promotes relations with Japan, was named head of the new group.

Korean politicians including Suh and Kang Chang-il, the association’s current head, will visit Japan this month. They will hold talks with senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to seek ways to stop the deterioration in bilateral relations, according to sources close to them.

Earlier this year, Moon called on the emperor to apologize to former South Korean “comfort women,” a euphemism for women who provided sex — including those who did so against their will — for Japanese troops before and during World War II. The Japanese government has been urging Moon to withdraw the remark and apologize.

Under the circumstances, Moon will not visit Japan this time, according to the sources.

In the meantime, Nam Gwan-pyo, former second deputy chief of the National Security Office at the South Korean presidential office, was formally named ambassador to Japan on Friday.

The relationship between the two Asian neighbors has also been souring in the wake of a series of court rulings, including by the South Korean Supreme Court, ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to Koreans who were requisitioned to work for them during the war.