• Kyodo

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The No. 2 man in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party told South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday that Japan welcomes President Moon Jae-in’s visit for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics next week regardless of the two nations’ frosty relations, party members said.

LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai asked Kim Jin Pyo, who leads the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians Union, in their meeting in Tokyo to tell Moon that he hopes for the president’s visit to the Japanese capital, they said.

“We welcome him,” Nikai was quoted as saying at the meeting held at the LDP headquarters.

Kim said the South Korean president’s visit is currently under consideration.

Before the meeting, the South Korean lawmakers and members of Japan’s counterpart group discussed ways to cooperate for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and improve bilateral relations which have sunk to the lowest level in decades over wartime history.

Seishiro Eto, acting chairman of the Japanese bipartisan group aimed at promoting ties with South Korea, said the two countries have been significantly contributing to Asia’s peace and stability and called for further efforts to that end.

Calling for a dialogue between the two countries, Kim said, “We should discuss ways to resolve many challenging issues between South Korea and Japan especially at a difficult time like this.”

Japan-South Korea relations remain strained due largely to a feud over wartime compensation.

Tension between the countries has escalated since 2018 when South Korea’s top court ordered a Japanese company to pay compensation for forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan maintains the issue of compensation was settled when the countries established ties under a 1965 agreement.

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