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South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday decided to name former lawmaker Kang Chang-il, an expert on issues in Japan, as new ambassador to the country, a presidential spokesperson said.

Relations between the two Asian neighbors are said to be at their worst in the postwar period due to wartime labor and other issues, with no signs of improvement on the horizon. It seems that the Moon administration hopes to rebuild the bilateral ties through the assignment of Kang, who also has connections with many Japanese politicians, to the Tokyo post in the lead-up to next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Kang, 68, who also previously served as head of a league of South Korean lawmakers promoting relations with Japan, will succeed incumbent South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo.

The appointment of Kang reflects Moon’s willingness to improve bilateral relations following the launch of the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in September, an official of the South Korean presidential office said.

Kang, who is from the southern South Korean island of Jeju, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo after graduating from Seoul National University.

He won a seat on South Korea’s National Assembly for the first time in the 2004 election, running in the poll from what is now the ruling Democratic Party, and was elected to the parliament three more times. Kang retired from the National Assembly following the expiration of his fourth term in May this year.

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