Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday expressed hope that a planned meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be a springboard for mending bilateral ties.

“It is extremely important for Japan and South Korea to have a candid exchange of opinions between the top leaders,” Suga said in an interview.

On Wednesday, Moon Hee-sang, speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly, introduced a bill to resolve the issue of wartime labor through contributions from companies and individuals from both nations.

But Suga stressed that a 1965 bilateral agreement on property and claims resolved the issue.

Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned visit to Japan as a state guest, slated for next spring, Suga pledged to make it “a meaningful one” so that the two countries can mark a new era of their relationship.

As for a scandal involving a government-funded cherry blossom-viewing party hosted by the prime minister, Suga said he humbly takes the criticism, adding the annual party will be reviewed from scratch.

But Suga declined to comment on whether the event will be abolished. “First of all, we will deal with problems one by one,” he said.

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